All Blacks: Joe Schmidt joins camp as Ian Foster among those affected by Covid outbreak

Colin Newboult

The All Blacks have been severely impacted in the lead-up to the first Test against Ireland after three coaches and two players tested positive for Covid-19.

Among those was head coach Ian Foster, while assistants Scot McLeod and John Plumtree are also isolating at home.

On the playing front, David Havili and Jack Goodhue, who were both vying for the centre spots, will miss the opening match at Eden Park after returning positive tests.

It means that former Ireland boss and soon-to-be New Zealand selector Joe Schmidt has joined the coaching team ahead of the first Test, with Braydon Ennor covering for Havili and Goodhue.

Brad Mooar, one of those to be unaffected among the backroom team, insists that the transition will be “seamless” and won’t disrupt preparations too much.

Won’t miss a beat

“It’s not an unforeseen event. Covid has been around us for a couple of years now and we’ve planned for what will happen in this situation,” Mooar said.

“Right now we’re preparing for Ireland, Plum and Foz have been zooming in, Feeky takes over on the ground with the forwards, and we just connect really closely.

“I’m really confident that, with the machine around us and the way it’s been set up, we won’t miss a beat.

“It’s not ideal. I think we can accept that and be honest with that, but we’ve planned for it … and now we can focus on the job at hand which is to put the week together and get ready.

“We know there’s a lot of work we need to do between now and Saturday to have the lads fresh and ready to go.”

Chiefs star favourite to take centre role

With Havili and Goodhue absent, Quinn Tupaea is favourite to start at inside centre ahead of rookie Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

“He’s (Tupaea) had a season of test rugby under his belt,” Mooar said. “I thought he did some really good things on tour last year. He’s a big strong boy, he’s a confident athlete, does the work and backs his skill set. That pretty much ticks a lot of boxes for me.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand aren’t the only team to be affected by Covid with Ireland confirming that Mack Hansen has tested positive and will miss the first Test.

READ MORE: Five storylines to follow during the New Zealand v Ireland three-Test series


New Zealand v Ireland series preview

Planet Rugby previews the Test series between the All Blacks and Ireland in New Zealand.