Moana Pasifika will miss another Super Rugby Pacific game as the match against Western Force has been called off because of an outbreak of Covid-19.
This weekend is the first 'Super Round' of the competition where the Australian-based sides which include the Fijian Drua, and the New Zealand-based sides including Moana Pasifika, face off for the first time.
All six matches were scheduled to take place at Melbourne's Rectangular Stadium this weekend, but a rash of Covid-19 cases in the Force squad has led to the postponement of Friday's second fixture.
Moana Pasifika have already had a heavily disrupted inaugural season with three matches already postponed because of Covid-19 outbreaks, initially in their squad and then in that of the Hurricanes. All those games have been replayed midweek.
The match against the Force will be rescheduled at a later date.
Meanwhile, the Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni Hu'akavameiliku met with Moana Pasifika players at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland on Wednesday ahead of their flight to Melbourne.
During the visit, Hu'akavameiliku thanked the players and commended the team for the support shown after the volcanic eruption of January 15 with the fund-raising efforts of Ofa Atu Tonga.
Of the 38 contracted Moana Pasifika players, 14 are Tongan.
Warning about post-match interviews
New Zealand Rugby have told the Super Rugby franchises to watch what they're saying in their post-match interviews.
A spate of red cards in recent weeks has led to plenty of discussion around the hardline approach on incidents of high and dangerous contact to the head of an opposition player.
Highlanders captain Aaron Smith and Hurricanes skipper Ardie Savea have both expressed frustration about consistency with such decisions in recent post-match interviews.
NZR's head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said they've raised matters around post-match comments with the New Zealand teams.
"What we want to see is feedback around referees and feedback from referees to teams being made through the appropriate channels," Lendrum said.
"The focus should be on the outstanding rugby that's being played, rather than anybody's particular views of incidents that might happen in the course of the game, that then led to comments being made in the heat of the moment.
"We all know it's a very fast-paced and complex game to referee, there will be errors from time to time."
As for the mounting number of red cards itself, NZR remained committed to taking an "appropriate stance on head contact."