Covid-19 has arrived in the Super Rugby Queenstown bubble.
After it was revealed earlier in the week that a number of players were considered to be close contacts to cases in Auckland, positive tests have been returned.
The Herald understands seven players in the Moana Pasifika squad have tested positive for the virus, with their pre-season clash against the Highlanders on Saturday night expected to be cancelled and putting the start of the season in serious doubt.
New Zealand Rugby were not in a position to comment on the situation when approached by the Herald, but said they remained hopeful they would still be able to provide an update tonight as planned.
Yesterday, Moana Pasifika chief executive Pelenato Sakalia said while RAT results were negative, the team's PCR testing had been diverted to Dunedin and therefore delayed due to resources being committed to assessing the Queenstown outbreak.
NZR general manager of professional rugby Chris Lendrum admitted yesterday one positive case may require next week's opening match to be postponed or cancelled - with Moana Pasifika scheduled to play the Blues next Friday night.
"That was the risk we identified when we went to Queenstown that one positive case could knock out an entire team," Lendrum said. "It is circumstantially dependent, however. We're not the authorities that determine that.
"We need the Southern DHB to come in and work through the process to define who are the close contacts in each case. That will then tell us how impacted this team is; who can get back to training when, and the impacts for round one of the competition in particular."
With Moana Pasifika's preseason match against the Highlanders set to be scrapped, Lendrum indicated the other four teams - assuming they remain Covid-free - would engage in a game of three halves to ensure they had a hit out.