All Blacks gain Mo'unga for Boks Test, but lose Whitelock
NEWS: All Blacks confirmed that star flyhalf Richie Mo’unga will be available for the second Test against South Africa on October 2.
Mo’unga, Aaron Smith and Sam Whitelock all stayed in New Zealand on paternity leave and did not travel to Australia last month with the rest of the All Blacks.
Veteran Whitelock, however, will miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship in Australia after being unable to secure suitable quarantine dates, New Zealand Rugby said Saturday.
Whitelock was expected to leave New Zealand and arrive in Queensland on Tuesday.
It was planned he would undergo a two-week quarantine before linking up with the All Blacks squad ahead of their second test against the Springboks, which acts as their final Rugby Championship fixture, on the Gold Coast on October 2.
However, despite securing an exemption to quarantine in Queensland on Friday, the All Blacks said Whitelock wouldn’t have had enough time to “safely prepare” for the Springboks test.
The two-week quarantine, which would have started upon Whitelock’s arrival in the Sunshine State, would have left the 32-year-old just four days to ready himself for the clash against the reigning world champions.
“Samuel Whitelock is to stay in New Zealand and will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship,” said New Zealand Rugby.
“The timing of arrival meant that Whitelock would have exited his two weeks’ hard quarantine with not enough time for a tight forward to safely prepare to play against South Africa on October 2.”
Meanwhile, Mo’unga has been confirmed to travel to and quarantine in Queensland and will be available for selection for the second Springboks test.
The mercurial playmaker also has not played since the second Wallabies test on August 14 and has endured the same lockdown restrictions in New Zealand as Whitelock.
No update has yet been provided on the availability status of Smith, who, again, has not played for the All Blacks since the second Bledisloe Cup clash and has undergone the same lockdown restrictions as both Mo’unga and Whitelock.
The All Blacks, who won their opening two matches against Australia, play Argentina in round three this weekend while the Wallabies play also unbeaten South Africa in Gold Coast double-header.
Test cap centurion Whitelock will rejoin the squad for their northern hemisphere tour which starts in late October.