The ever-changing situation with the rapid spread of coronavirus around the world has left one of New Zealand's biggest sporting events of the year in limbo.

Next weekend's cross-code double header featuring both the Blues and the Warriors at Eden Park is up in the air because of the unique nature of the event involving two different leagues.

Sanzaar announced that this weekend's round of Super Rugby fixtures would go ahead as planned, with only the clash between the Highlanders and Jaguares in Buenos Aires to be played behind closed doors.

On the other hand, the NRL has banned fans from the second round of matches, which includes the double header in Auckland for now.


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Warriors CEO Cameron George said he is looking forward to the Warriors' first game of the season against Newcastle this weekend, but admitted he was still in the dark about the status of next weekend's clash against the Raiders at Eden Park.

"That's where we stand now. It's business as usual," George told Radio Sport. "We're in Newcastle. They should have a big crowd no doubt. But next weekend is a different story for the NRL.

"But we're still working with [NRL CEO] Todd [Greenberg] and the NRL and obviously the New Zealand government agencies around what advice they can give us for domestic games in New Zealand, which obviously provides a unique situation to all the other NRL clubs that exist in Australia."

Blues CEO Andrew Hore said, from the Blues' point of view anyway, the event will still go ahead, but also admitted the situation is ever-changing.

"Yeah I think the main event is still on so people should still get down there," Hore told Radio Sport. "The fact is this is an ever moving beast. At this stage, the ministry of health have been pretty clear that although there's clusters it hasn't been widespread into the community as such and gatherings are fine to proceed.

"But it's been one of those situations we've had to monitor day by day. And of course the safety of the public and the safety of players is paramount and you monitor it. But New Zealand is in a slightly different position to Australia and as such that puts a sort of different complexity on things."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signalled that tougher travel restrictions will be imposed in New Zealand to combat the rising spread of the virus, and refused to rule out any countries, even Australia.

Eden Park. Photo / Photosport
Eden Park. Photo / Photosport

George said his club will listen to the authorities on where to go from here in regards to next weekend's clash.

"It is what it is. We're working with the appropriate authorities. The NRL are talking to the New Zealand agencies as we speak. I'll get more advice on that over the next day or two.

"At the end of the day, we're here to protect our players, staff and fans. This ain't just a rugby league issue, it's actually a global situation that's unfortunately unfolding pretty rapidly. We've just got to work through it over the next couple days."

George said he has spoken to Hore on the issue and will work with him as the situation develops day by day.

"We're hopeful that it's all systems go for next weekend in New Zealand because the reality of the situation is, we're best being in a country that isn't as severely impacted as what Australia is experiencing at the moment.

"But again at the end of the day, we've just got to be very sensible and protect the public and particularly our players as best we can because we don't want to jeopardise what we're going to do over the next few weeks as well."


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The Eden Park double-header was partly designed to encourage more attendance at sporting events, with both the Auckland stadium and New Zealand sporting sides experiencing drop in attendances over the years.

The recent coronavirus global outbreak has exacerbated the issue even further – something Hore admits is concerning for his club.

"We are no different to any other business at the moment," he said. "We're not exempt to those stresses. So that obviously brings an element of concern that we'll have to work through and put some systems in place. But we are no different to any other industry in this country and globally.

"This is having a significant impact. And we'll have to assess that. We'll have to work with the insurance agencies, the banks, NZR on all of those kinds of things as things unfold."