The Blues' Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign is back on track following the Government's announcement that Auckland will move to alert Level 2.
The emergence of Covid-19 in South Auckland, and the resulting snap lockdown, forced the Blues' final pre-season clash – the pre-planned 'Footy Fest' match against the Crusaders at Eden Park – to be cancelled, while players were only allowed to train individually at home.
Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said he was delighted with the change in alert levels, which sees Auckland move to Level 2 and the rest of the country to Level 1 on Thursday, meaning the team could plan a much-needed pre-season match ahead of what will be a gruelling Super Rugby season.
"The reality is that we could not contemplate safely competing in the opening round of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, arguably the best rugby contest in the world, without training together and hopefully taking part in a pre-season match," Hore said.
"We are working on a range of options including the initial plan to take on the Crusaders. We have been humbled by the level of support from the other Super clubs. We are fierce rivals on the field but off it, the clubs are incredibly supportive and acting in the best spirit to ensure the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition is successful.
"We will be in a position to announce definitive plans tomorrow after a range of discussions take place over the next 24 hours."
The Blues are also reportedly looking at a game of three halves clash in Hamilton against the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
On Tuesday, Hore said the Blues were doing everything to make sure a pre-season game would take place ahead of the start of the season, possibly even moving the Crusaders clash to Christchurch.
"That's all been looked at. They're getting prepared for their season, but there are other venues that could potentially be used in Christchurch," he said.
"To be honest, to play the Crusaders we'd probably play them on the beach. We've got to stay focused on getting through the logistics of potentially moving out of Auckland to get a game.
"Super Rugby Aotearoa is physically demanding and you need to get these boys' bodies used to taking contact and the best way to do that are these pre-season fixtures. We're looking at all options."
However, Hore admitted that the cancellation of the 'Footy Fest' clash, which was planned as a replacement match for last season's cancelled Super Rugby Aotearoa finale, would have a "significant" financial impact for the franchise, with 20,000 fans expected at Eden Park.
"We know 18,000 people chose to keep their tickets (from last year's cancelled SRA finale), and we were grateful to them for doing that. We believe walkup crowd sales were looking good, particularly if the weather was strong, and it's not just the Blues who will suffer economic impact, it's all the charities and community groups who were going to derive an advantage from this."
The Blues will take on the Hurricanes in Wellington for their first game of Super Rugby Aoteroa 2021 on February 27.