SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said he is “very optimistic” about the chances of New Zealand hosting the Rugby Championship in November.
“I feel as if we’re close,” Marinos told Stuff. “If numbers and infections in New Zealand remain at this level or start improving, then we’re very optimistic.
“But one can’t ignore the fact of what we saw in New Zealand a few weeks ago when there was an outbreak out of nowhere and swift reaction that was taken in order to contain it.
“We certainly remain very optimistic and positive to get The Rugby Championship underway,” Marinos said. “We’re doing everything we can within our confines, and certainly working in a very cooperative way with the New Zealand government. “NZ Rugby has been leading a lot of those discussions. We keep plugging away.”
“There is always that element of unpredictability, but my philosophy throughout this whole pandemic is you’ve got to control the controllables, and make sure we’re doing everything we can so that when the green light is given we can turn things on.”
It is widely speculated that West Australia (Queensland) is the backup plan if New Zealand is unable to host the tournament, but Marinos was still upbeat all hurdles could be cleared.
“We have explored the possibility of centralising the other teams and just bringing them in and out for the various games,” he said.
“But again that is very fluid. It’s just a concept that we have considered.
“The biggest challenge has always been that the players are going to be in a safe environment, and there is no doubt that New Zealand and Australia are probably safer than most major centres from an outbreak perspective.
“The other thing goes to player welfare. The quarantine can be managed if there is mobility and movement, and they can prepare.
“Given the stop-start nature of the seasons so far, it is imperative that player get as much physical activity as often as possible in order for them to stand up to the rigours of six test matches in six weeks.”