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'I have to say, even as a Kiwi, I'm disappointed' - All Blacks great criticises NZR

By AAP

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All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens says he is “disappointed” with the decision by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to pull out of their Test against Australia in Perth next weekend.

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NZR announced on Friday they would be withdrawing from the third Bledisloe Cup clash with the Wallabies, scheduled for next Saturday, as well as scrapping two home Rugby Championship meetings with South Africa.

The move came after New Zealand extended a nationwide lockdown against the coronavirus and Mehrtens called on the All Blacks to do more to assist the sport in tackling the challenges stemming from the pandemic.

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“I have to say, even as a Kiwi, I’m disappointed in the decision by NZR,” Mehrtens wrote in his column in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday.

“While I don’t know all the ins and outs, nor what the requirements are for the various travel regions, I am a little confused.

“I think that given the public appetite for rugby and the responsibility that players have … it’s disappointing that not all teams are sharing the load.”

The All Blacks won the first two Bledisloe Cup matches this month after both were played at Auckland’s Eden Park following a decision by the New Zealand government to grant the Wallabies an exemption to pandemic travel restrictions.

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No new venue or date has been decided for the postponed matches, with Queensland, Europe and South Africa among the possible options for the remaining matches to be played in the Rugby Championship.

“Are the Kiwis thinking about themselves? Perhaps,” wrote Mehrtens, the All Blacks’ second-highest point-scorer of all time.

“For the good of the game, it’s a real shame.

“I can understand the logic of trying to condense the Rugby Championship and northern hemisphere tours into one period, but the apparent lack of unity and cohesion between Australia and New Zealand is really disappointing.”

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