New Zealand Rugby has a fresh fight on its hands, with claims that leaked documents show they agreed to a schedule that would involve the All Blacks being quarantined on Christmas Day.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson denies that he signed off on an agreement which included a six-week Rugby Championship that would end on December 12, before a two-week quarantine period for the players as mandated by the New Zealand Government.
Both Newshub and the Sydney Morning Herald are reporting that leaked minutes of a meeting between the SANZAAR chief executives shows that New Zealand were not "blindsided" by the announcement of the six-week tournament.
Newshub said the minutes clearly show a six-week draw was accepted by everyone, and that all parties were comfortable with the September 24 announcement of the draw.
The Sydney Morning Herald stated: "Leaked minutes from a meeting of SANZAAR CEOs have revealed New Zealand Rugby agreed to play a six-week Rugby Championship which would finish on December 12, despite their insistence otherwise."
The SMH says it sourced the minutes from New Zealand. They "clearly show" the six-week format was agreed upon by all four nations.
However, speaking on the Mike Hosking Breakfast this morning, New Zealand Rugby Players Association boss Rob Nichol said the date of the reported minutes didn't lineup.
"All the information we have is no they didn't [agree to it]," Nicol said. "The minutes story was an interesting one because our information show there wasn't even a meeting on that date and no ones seen any minutes.
"There's some real irony in this because what we've learnt is exactly the same time that Sanzaar management put out a press release effectively changing the draw to show our last game on the 12th of December, the broadcasters themselves had circulated a draw that showed the last game on the 5th of December and all approved it," he said. "So we've just got a whole lot of questions because it's our players and team management who are going to be asked to go through this and until we get some transparency then we're not going to be committing to anything."
Meanwhile, Robinson and has also rejected the claim from Australian rugby chairman Hamish McLennan that transtasman relationships are at their 'lowest ebb".
He claimed the comment was a "strategy" New Zealand would not be drawn into, and said both McLennan and Aussie chief executive Rob Clarke had, within the past fortnight, and extended an invitation for the NZR top brass to come over to Australia.
"I think it's a bit of bluster, to be honest…we don't operate like that," Robinson said.
"There has been no agreement to play in the tournament on December 12 at any time and at any meeting."
The SMH wrote: "Robinson may have been consistent but the minutes show the SANZAAR and RA side of the story to be the more accurate account of events."
All Blacks captain Sam Cane has claimed the players were "blindsided" by the prospect of being in quarantine on December 25.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster told Cane "we didn't see this coming".
"Yeah, it doesn't excite us overly much," Cane said of quarantining at Christmas.
"It's not our fight to fight. What is ours is preparing for these two test matches against Australia. To have that certainty after so much uncertainty leading up to now is pretty awesome. For players that gives us a clear focus of what's coming next after a few months of wondering what's coming next."