Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has criticised the tight turnaround expected by New Zealand Rugby of his side following planned quarantine measures for next month's Bledisloe Cup tests.
New Zealand has been confirmed to host two Bledisloe Cup tests after missing out on the hosting rights for the Rugby Championship due to restrictive quarantine protocols.
According to New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey, New Zealand's quarantine protocols restrict teams to individual isolation for the first three days, before being allowed to form bubbles of 15 for training from days four to seven. After a second negative test, they can expand the bubble to 25 from days eight to 14. "If there was a positive test, then it's all over," Impey said.
Those protocols aren't acceptable for Rennie, who went as far as ruling his team out of being able to play the first Bledisloe Cup test on October 10, which was initially mooted as a potential date.
The Herald understands the tests are scheduled for October 17 and October 24, but Rennie still wants changes to the quarantine restrictions.
"Hopefully they're still up for negotiation. [NZ Rugby chief executive] Mark Robinson, he said when New Zealand missed out on the Rugby Championship that it was because of the quarantine protocols which were restrictive and made it difficult for the way teams wanted to prepare," Rennie said after naming a 44-man Wallabies squad which includes 16 uncapped players for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.
"New Zealand Rugby has got an expectation that we jump on a plane the day after the Super Rugby final and have two weeks in quarantine where we can't prepare as a team and then play a test seven days later.
"Under those quarantine arrangements, I can assure you we won't be playing a test in New Zealand that weekend [of October 10]."
If the first Bledisloe test is played on October 17, that would allow the Wallabies two weeks of full post-quarantine training if they departed after the Super Rugby Australia final on September 19 and spent two weeks in quarantine.
However, while Rennie said October 17 "could be" a plausible date for the first test, he is unhappy about not being able to train as a full squad while in quarantine.
"There's lots of people far worse off than us. We'll deal with it, but my job is to fight for the best possible conditions we can get to prepare and put in a quality performance. The current protocols don't allow us to do that.
"We'd like to create a better environment for it. We have to go into a bubble regardless, so both sides going into a bubble for two weeks, unrestricted training so that the preparation's identical.
"For me to try and create a culture, to spend time around team building, to get our structures and clarity right around team details is massively important, but you can't do that as a group for the first two weeks. We'll have some young guys introducing themselves to some of our other Wallabies two weeks into our camp. It's unacceptable – we won't be playing a test under those conditions.
"We know Super Rugby Aotearoa was real high quality, real high intensity, so we've got to make sure that in our preparation we can train with that sort of intensity – hence the reason we're not excited about the quarantine protocols."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday insisted the decision to award the Rugby Championship to Australia was not due to the NZ Government's quarantine restrictions but rather due to "Sanzaar politics".
Both Robinson and Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos have denied this claim.