For those involved with the Auckland, North Harbour and Counties Manukau NPC rugby teams hoping to get a Government dispensation to leave the Super City at alert level three in order to train in Taupo and kick-start their return to the competition, this week has had more twists and turns than a Damian McKenzie warm-up.
In the end, they and New Zealand Rugby may be quite happy with how things turned out – thanks in large part to the Government allowing four Silver Ferns players to leave Auckland to assemble in Christchurch for the netball test series against England.
That's because the precedent set - in level four, no less - will presumably pave the way for the rubber-stamping of the rugby teams' travel plans next week, if and when Auckland goes to level three, in order to train for seven days in their own bubbles.
There are no such restrictions on Silver Ferns captain Gina Crampton, vice-captain Sulu Fitzpatrick, Peta Toeava and Grace Nweke, who will immediately start training with the squad and be available for Monday's first test at the Christchurch Arena.
Their dispensation was successful after a Ministry of Health assessment of public health and economic impact. Good news, presumably, for Auckland, North Harbour and Counties, who, as the Herald revealed last week, are waiting on a business exemption in order for them to prepare to play as soon as possible while following stricter health protocols than the netballers.
If and when they get the go-ahead (and they were hoping to receive it this week before the Government extended Auckland's strict lockdown for another seven days), the players from the three teams, none of whom have trained together since August 18, will board buses for Taupo's Wairakei Resort where they will have extremely limited interactions with the general public.
It's possible that they could play some of their competition games in Taupo rather than at Albany, Eden Park and Pukekohe. Taupo is at level 2 like the rest of New Zealand outside Auckland.
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As it is, round three of the NPC will kick off tonight without them when Waikato host Canterbury in Hamilton. Should the exemption be granted, the three teams could be available to re-join the competition in the first weekend of October and they'll face a busy schedule from then on to make up for the games they have missed.
Their reacquaintance with each other and the game is not a fait accompli, though, and so it wasn't surprising that NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson was so accessible to the media following the revelations that six NPC players based in Auckland had wrongly assembled with Wellington, Hawke's Bay, Manawatū, Bay of Plenty and Northland after being granted a travel exemption via an online application process managed by their provincial unions.
"Disappointing" was how Robinson described the unions making the same errors on their applications, and not informing the governing body of their actions in the first place, because the domestic game and indeed the country is delicately poised at this point.
There was apparently no public health risk posed by the players but the stakes are extremely high even apart from that aspect of the breach. The errors and ill-communication could have put the whole re-start of the NPC under threat or at least thwarted the chance of Auckland, North Harbour and Counties re-joining the competition.
Robinson will have rightly been horrified by the blunder. Message sent, and having seen netball's success, he must now be reasonably confident of a good outcome for the Super City three because on the face of it they have just as good a case if not a better one. It's probably also a last throw of the dice as the clock is ticking on the competition.
"Disappointing" won't cover it if they're denied.