The Melbourne Rebels have been told to limit interactions with the Canberra community to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus, with the players to be subjected to asymptomatic testing twice this week.
A surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne led to the Rebels setting up a temporary base in the capital, with the potential of also playing some home games at Canberra Stadium if required.
The entire squad and coaching staff was moved to Canberra to ensure the first round of a new domestic Super Rugby competition would go ahead without disruption.
The Rebels will play against the ACT Brumbies on Saturday night, but the club needed ACT Health approval before arriving to start preparations for the Australian rugby relaunch.
Rugby Australia has enforced a training "bubble" for players, which includes temperature testing and daily health checks before training and limiting access to facilities.
ACT Health said it was happy for the Rebels to play and train in Canberra despite the outbreak of positive cases in Melbourne, but they must follow guidelines.
"Public health advice has been provided to the Melbourne Rebels to limit interactions with staff and other patrons at their accommodation, and with the wider ACT community," an ACT government spokesperson said. "All players and staff with the Melbourne Rebels have been subjected to a daily health check since March (for the players) and May (for the staff) to identify potential COVID-19 symptoms.
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"... It's understood asymptomatic testing was conducted on all players and staff on June 22 and all results were negative. The Rebels plan to continue asymptomatic testing on all players and staff, at their discretion, twice weekly through the coming weeks."
Asked if the government would approve Rebels' home games in Canberra if required, the spokesperson said: "The Melbourne Rebels have not yet approached the ACT government to play home games in Canberra. [But] the ACT government is open to having this conversation."
Rugby Australia is hoping the Rebels relocation is the only hiccup for the new competition. There was speculation the Rebels would refuse to board the plane to Canberra after players were told they would have to take another pay cut for the rest of the year despite the competition restart.
But the players arrived ready to play for round one, leaving Rugby Union Players Association representatives and RA to discuss a pay deal moving forward.
It is hoped finalising the next financial arrangements will be done swiftly to allow the talk to focus on rugby, team selections, injuries, law variations and what could a pre-curser to a trans-Tasman competition in 2021.
Brumbies fullback Tom Banks will need to get through training unscathed this week to earn selection after a coronavirus shutdown foot injury limited his preparation time.
If Banks is unavailable, Canberra junior Mack Hansen looks the most likely to move into the No. 15 jumper to give the Brumbies another attacking weapon.
The Brumbies back line will have its hands full against the classy Rebels, who boast Wallabies representatives in almost every position from scrumhalf to fullback.
"What we did in the first six weeks [five wins from six games] is done and dusted, it means nothing," said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
"But we understand that and we get on with it. Well prepared and ready to go on Saturday."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND ONE
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm