Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has described starting the Super Rugby season in January as “dangerous” and called for change next season.
Bushfires were burned within 10km of the city as the players suffered through the oppressive conditions and McKellar stood up for his men.
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The Brumbies prevailed 27-24 before McKellar called on the governing body to prioritise player safety and move the season forward.
“We talk about player welfare, we’ve got big men having to run around and they’re in good condition but I’m hoping round one next year is not anywhere near January 31,” McKellar said.
“You’re limited with your preparation time and it’s dangerous, it really is.”
The ACT has been sporadically blanketed in smoke, depending on winds, for more than two months and the Brumbies had to move their preseason training to Newcastle for 10 days.
Super Rugby officials created safety guidelines around air quality last week as bushfire smoke continues to linger in Canberra and Melbourne.
Big Bash League, W-League and WNBL matches have all been abandoned in Canberra this summer due to smoke and officials were closely monitoring conditions on Friday.
McKellar described the ongoing disaster as hitting “pretty close to home” with his squad members Ryan and Lachlan Lonergan’s family property impacted.
Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa echoed his coach’s comments and wants the season to kick off later next year.
“Yeah it was warm and we definitely felt it,” Alaalatoa said.
“We knew it was going to be hot I was just proud of the boys how we dug deep and worked through that.
“Hopefully, it is a bit later next year.”
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