By NZ Herald

The upcoming North vs South match remains in doubt despite already having been delayed a week.

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The match, which was postponed to September 5, has been met with fresh doubts as the country looks set to remain in Covid-19 alert Level 2 until September 6 following the Government’s announcement that Auckland will stay in lockdown for four more days until 11:59pm on Sunday, August 30.

From Monday, August 31, the whole country including Auckland will be at level 2 but it will be phased in for Auckland.

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Mass gatherings will be restricted to 10 people at level 2, and a 50-person limit would be in place for funerals and tangi.

Those settings will be in place for a week and Cabinet will review them on Sunday, September 6.

Auckland’s restrictions effectively rules out the match being held at Eden Park, which leaves Wellington as the likely venue, although it would have to be without fans with normal Level 2 restrictions still in place for the rest of the country.

Playing the game in Dunedin is also an option under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium.

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New Zealand Rugby will provide an official update on the status of the fixture tomorrow.

The game was initially thrown into jeopardy as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland a fortnight ago, and the resulting sudden switch to alert level 3 in Auckland, and level 2 in the rest of the country.

Last week, New Zealand Rugby confirmed the match original scheduled to be played in Auckland on August 29, was postponed by a week after the news that the 14 Auckland-based players in the North squad, as well as five support staff, had not been granted an exemption to leave Auckland.

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If Auckland comes out of level 3 on Monday as expected, those players will be able to join the rest of the squads in Wellington on Monday to prepare for the match in the capital.

The North and South squads (and the player’s first province played for) are as follows:

NORTH SQUAD

Hookers:

Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Ash Dixon (Hawke’s Bay) and Kurt Eklund (Auckland).

Props: Alex Fidow (Wellington), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Angus Ta’avao (Auckland), Karl Tu’inukuafe (North Harbour) and Ofa Tuungafasi (Auckland).

Locks: Scott Scrafton (Auckland), Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland and captain) and Tupou Vaa’i (Taranaki).

Loose forwards: Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Dalton Papalii (Auckland), Ardie Savea (Wellington) and Hoskins Sotutu (Auckland).

Halfbacks: TJ Perenara (Wellington), Aaron Smith (Manawatu) and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Taranaki).

Midfielders: Rieko Ioane (Auckland), Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato) and Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington).

Outside backs: Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Mitchell Hunt (Auckland), Damian McKenzie (Waikato), Sevu Reece (Waikato) and Mark Telea (North Harbour).

SOUTH SQUAD

Hookers: Liam Coltman (Otago), Andrew Makalio (Tasman) and Codie Taylor (Canterbury).

Props: George Bower (Otago), Alex Hodgman (Canterbury), Nepo Laulala (Canterbury), Tyrel Lomax (Tasman) and Joe Moody (Canterbury).

Locks: Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Southland) and Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury and captain).

Loose forwards: Tom Christie (Canterbury), Shannon Frizell (Tasman), Dillon Hunt (Otago), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury) and Tom Sanders (Canterbury).

Halfbacks: Finlay Christie (Tasman), Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury) and Brad Weber (Otago).

First five-eighths: Josh Ioane (Otago) and Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury).

Midfielders: Braydon Ennor (Canterbury), Leicester Faingaanuku (Tasman), Jack Goodhue (Canterbury) and Sio Tomkinson (Otago).

Outside backs: Jordie Barrett (Canterbury), George Bridge (Canterbury) and Will Jordan (Tasman).

A number of players were unavailable for selection due to injury, including 2019 All Blacks Dane Coles, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane and Ngani Laumape.

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

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