Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could be the player most affected by the decision for Auckland to have no further rugby this season because of the latest pandemic lockdown.
The former Warriors league skipper and Dally M winner was due to begin his union tenure in the NPC this season, but will now have to go straight into the game at Super Rugby level.
Yesterday New Zealand Rugby confirmed the Auckland-based NPC teams will not be able to return to competitive rugby in 2021, following Monday's Government announcement that the Auckland region will continue to operate under current Covid-19 alert Level 3 restrictions for the next two weeks.
The decision confirmed the proposed Super City series which had been contemplated as an alternative means of playing meaningful rugby for North Harbour, Auckland and Counties Manukau, will not go ahead.
Auckland forwards coach Steven Bates says it is a big blow for Tuivasa-Sheck as well as younger players vying for Super Rugby spots.
"There's two ways to look at it. There's some guys, four or five years of Super Rugby that have been going around the clock week-in, week-out for a couple of years now. In some ways it might be good for them," Bates told Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave.
"Where the real damage is done is our youth – the guys who were just new to NPC this year. By the end of NPC this year they would have had a full season and pushing for Super Rugby contracts. And unfortunately for those guys they just haven't had the development that they would have had from playing a whole season of NPC.
"Roger is not a young guy who is 20 or 21 but he's now going to have a couple of warm-up games and then thrust into Super Rugby off the back of no NPC rugby where he would have played six, seven maybe eight games and developed an experience. For him, I guess it's hugely disappointing. As much as the Blues can, they will get him up to speed but it's hard to replicate those games and the learning you get playing in a game," Bates added.
Bates said the Auckland Rugby Union did everything they could to get on the field with six travel exemption attempts denied by the government.
"I understand the Covid situation and it's obviously very bad but to not be competing in the whole competition is very disappointing for us.
"We applied for exemptions on six different occasions and got turned down. We were told if we got double vaccinated and we had negative Covid tests, two in a week, that we would be a strong chance so we went through all those protocols and that's why I'm disappointed to be honest with you. We did everything that was asked of us and unfortunately, we are in the situation we are in now.
"To all the supporters, we've done everything we can as a union to try and get ourselves back on the field. We were willing to be based somewhere else in the country, the whole squad is double vaccinated, including the management….disappointingly we just couldn't get the exemption we were after."