The Kiwis won't play a mid-year test in New Zealand in 2022, with the match likely to be staged across the Tasman.
It had been hoped that the Kiwis would end their long absence from these shores next June, with a game against Tonga or Samoa in Auckland.
But the New Zealand Rugby League have abandoned those plans, due to the ongoing border uncertainty, which has only been accentuated by the Omicron Covid variant.
"The reality of the border situation means it will most likely be in Australia," NZRL chief executive Greg Peters told the Herald. "The border situation now means you cannot, with any certainty, sit here and say that in June we will have no quarantine requirements at all. We might have seven days at home, but that is not going to work in that jammed in window."
The Kiwis haven't been sighted here since November 2019, with a two-test series against Great Britain in Auckland and Christchurch.
Any hopes of international football in 2020 were scuppered by the extended NRL Covid related shutdown.
There were plans to stage Kiwis matches in 2021, but they became unworkable when the transtasman bubble closed.
Peters said they arrived at this decision "quickly", albeit with a heavy heart.
"It's the practicalities of not being able to plan anything unless we lock something in, in a more certain environment," said Peters. "We need to have certainty because one thing the last two years have taught us is planning for uncertainty means everything is uncertain.
"You can't sit here hand on heart saying you know the borders will be open [in June]. [Whereas] if the NRL is playing, it is going to be based in NSW or Queensland so we have got more certainty and the players will be there, we don't have to shift them across the border, and we can lock something in."
Peters emphasised that walking away from a New Zealand-based fixture was a regrettable scenario, but the opportunity cost of not playing was even greater.
"It's disappointing," said Peters. "We want to play at home in front of our fans – we always want to do that.
"But we need to get on the field first and foremost and if that is the alternative and there is some more certainty around it, then we will go with that, given we haven't played for two years."
Tonga is the Kiwis' preferred opposition, given the intense rivalry that has developed since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
"Obviously we would love to play Tonga but that ball will be in their court as to whether they want to play first of all and what we can arrange around it," said Peters. "So I can't confirm that."
If the 2022 game goes ahead, it will be the last mid-year test, after the NRL confirmed it was scrapping the annual standalone representative weekend, which encompasses the Pacific tests and a State of Origin fixture, from 2023 onwards as part of the new broadcast agreement.
Instead, the NRL have touted plans for an extended international window in October and November each season.
Given the recent loss of the Anzac test from the match calendar as well, some may be cynical about the perceived importance of international football, but Peters takes a glass half full view.
"There's no reason why we can't the same spectacle that we have seen [against Tonga], at the end of the year," said Peters.
He added that the extended international window gives a chance for a "proper" Kiwis camp and high performance programs, rather than the compressed opportunities during the year.
"It's a long time between the annual [international] season but the positives outweigh the negatives," said Peters. "If we can build the connections between the Kiwis squad in other ways during the year, then we can build into a really good international programme.
"It's a clear window, with much better commercial propositions around it. We want a multi-year calendar that makes sense, including Kiwis versus Australia and Kiwis versus Tonga and if they can gravitate towards one period of the year then we have an opportunity to make it something special."