NZ Herald

All Black great Sir John Kirwan has called on the current test rugby stars to follow the lead set by the Warriors during the virus crisis.

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The rocky transtasman rugby relationship has descended into Santa-gate, with the quarantine period meaning All Blacks will be forced to miss Christmas at home under the latest Rugby Championship schedule.

Stars like Beauden Barrett have already indicated they are uncertain about their availability but Kirwan pointed to the way the Warriors camped in Australia throughout the NRL season, because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions.

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Kirwan, on Sky TV’s The Breakdown, called for a re-think out of rugby circles, and was backed by fellow test legend Justin Marshall.

Kirwan started by indicating he was upset that rugby divisions were becoming public.

“The ABs have always lived like that – you agree to disagree and then commit,” said Kirwan, who also played for the Warriors.

“Bringing your dirty washing out into the public…I don’t know where that’s coming from, I won’t make a comment.

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“It’s not doing anyone any good…the transtasman relationship has never been worse.

“The Warriors stayed away five and a half months. This is Covid people, people around the world are sacrificing.

“I’m sure if you said to Aaron Smith, or you said to Beauden Barrett…can you make Christmas up two days later with your family? It doesn’t really matter does it?”

Marshall, who played for French and British clubs, said: “I’m with you…I played, trained on Christmas Day, I played on Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day which is a challenge.

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“You get on with it and adapt and make our way through this period and that’s going to take a lot from everybody.”

Also on The Breakdown, Rugby Australia CEO Hamish McLennan said the six-week schedule had been ‘locked in’ for the Rugby Championship but “there are some other options being put on the table so we need to reconcile those and have a look at it”.

“I think a six-week competition is the most commercially viable,” McLennan added after saying Rugby Australia voted with New Zealand Rugby for a five-week tournament.

“We should note that more money will be made in Australia with the six-week competition and that will mean more money will go back into the pockets of the kiwis, so we’re really conscious of driving that in that regard. It was always a six-week competition…We were the ones that voted with New Zealand for a five-week competition. And we were originally defeated at the very beginning around this so it’s a Sanzaar issue. South Africa and Argentina want a six-week competition and we can’t change that.”

McLennan said he was worried about talks of the All Blacks boycotting the final game saying things could change in terms of Covid restrictions.

“I’m really concerned about a boycott. It would be a tragedy for the TRC and the game. It’s 10 weeks away so we’ve seen the restrictions unwinding a little bit here. I think the New South Wales government has done a great job of contact tracing and managing the disease. We’ve had two days in a row where we’ve had no new Covid cases.

“So I think we need to just take a deep breath and stand back a little bit. Hope and plan that it works out well. At the moment we’re feeling confident that all will be fine. But we are 10 weeks away from that happening.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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