SPORTS

COVID Disrupts All Blacks camp

The All Blacks have been thrown into a COVID tailspin with their top two coaches and a pair of midfielders struck down with the virus the week of the opening July test against Ireland. The team announced on Monday head coach Ian Foster and assistant coach John Plumtree had both tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating at their homes.
28 Jun 2022 13:10
COVID Disrupts All Blacks camp
All Blacks Coach Ian Foster is isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19 in the leadup to the first Ireland test.

The All Blacks have been thrown into a COVID tailspin with their top two coaches and a pair of midfielders struck down with the virus the week of the opening July test against Ireland.

The team announced on Monday head coach Ian Foster and assistant coach John Plumtree had both tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating at their homes.

The timing round their symptoms and results is not known, but it’s understood both will be out for Saturday’s Eden Park opener.

 

Midfielders David Havili and Jack Goodhue have also tested positive, the All Blacks announced, and were also not with the team in Auckland.

Crusaders centre Braydon Ennor has joined the squad in Auckland as a replacement.

Stuff understands that the All Blacks are bracing for more disruption, with the very real potential for other members of the playing and/ or coaching groups to join the defections.

 

The positive cases are a major blow for the All Blacks as they prepare for the first of three tests against Ireland at a sold-out Eden Park on Saturday.

The Irish have won three of their last five internationals against the New Zealanders, and won their latest matchup 29-20 in Dublin last November.

The All Blacks had been building up with a camp in Northland last week, but the loss of their two most senior coaches threatens to throw their preparations into disarray.

 

With Foster and Plumtree both out for the week, the All Blacks will be in the hands of remaining coaches Scott McLeod, Greg Feek and Brad Mooar.

It is not clear whether former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt could potentially step in this week.

The experienced head coach is due to join the All Blacks setup after this series as a selector and has worked with the Blues throughout their Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

 

Foster said he was confident in the team’s ability to carry on preparing for the first test without the absencescausing too much duress.
“We’ve had a plan for this happening, and it’s a great opportunity for the wider coaching group and the senior players, who will be highly motivated to step up,” he said.

“We have learned how to cope with the unexpected, like everyone has over the past couple of years.”

“I will still be working alongside the coaches and team via Zoom and I have huge faith in the coaching group and the players.”

 

“We have structures in place and everyone is working together.”

The loss of likely first-choice No 12 Havili and Goodhue is less of a blow, with plenty of midfield options within the squad.

Chiefs improver Quinn Tupaea now looms as a likely starter at second five for the opening Ireland test, with newcomer Roger Tuivasa- Sheck the other option.

Blues star Rieko Ioane was the nailed-on starter at No 13, with Goodhue considered a bench prospect at best.

It is not clear at this stage whether any other All Blacks players are affected by the untimely positive  tests.

 

 

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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