Update on season fate for Counties Power Heat & PIC Steelers

The Counties Power Heat will be relying on Bay of Plenty to beat Wellington in the final week of the Farah Palmer Cup if they are to make the semi-finals after New Zealand Rugby today released the revised competition draw.

The decision to keep Auckland in Alert Level 4 for another week means it won’t be possible for the Counties Power Heat to play their final round fixture against Waikato, which NZR confirmed would be classed as a draw with both teams getting two competition points.

The Heat would then need the Bay of Plenty Volcanix to upset Wellington in order for JP Faamausili’s side to remain in fourth place and potentially qualify for the semi-finals.

“It is disappointing we haven’t been able to play our final round robin match due to COVID but we remain hopeful that we can qualify for the semi-finals and continue our season,” chief executive Aaron Lawton said.

“Our team continues to train on their own but there still remain a lot of factors beyond our control. “Even if we do make the semi-finals due to other results, we will be racing against the clock in terms of returning to training and would need Auckland to move into Alert Level 2 by then too.”

The Bunnings Warehouse NPC and Farah Palmer Cup (FPC) will continue without Counties Manukau, Auckland and North Harbour for the next two weeks.

Teams outside of Auckland return to the field this weekend for week three of the Bunnings NPC and NZR has confirmed the truncated draw will continue when week four kicks off on Friday, September 24.

NZR has also confirmed the FPC will resume on Saturday, September 18.

“The PIC Steelers are also continuing to train on their own as the lockdown continues and plan their return to the field once the COVID Alert Levels allow us,” Lawton added.

“We remain hopeful we will be able to re-join the competition along with Auckland and North Harbour and make up the additional games.

“We continue to work with NZR on what the future looks like but have certainly not given up the fight yet and are planning to return to the Bunnings Warehouse NPC as soon as possible.”

Steve Lancaster, NZR General Manager Community Rugby, was pleased to have two weeks of Bunnings Warehouse NPC and FPC rugby scheduled and hopeful the teams based in the Auckland region could re-join the competition in coming weeks.

“We are reviewing the impact of the latest government announcements and working through a number of options to ensure they can continue to safely play a part in both competitions. The provincial unions have shown their commitment and support for the competitions and especially Auckland, Counties Manukau and North Harbour who have been accommodating and understanding in these uncertain times,” Lancaster said.