The Stormers will head out to New Zealand as planned for their Super Rugby tour. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

The Stormers tour to New Zealand will go ahead as planned at this stage, according to coach Robbie Fleck.

New Zealand is currently in a state of shock after 49 people were shot down and a further 48 injured while performing Friday prayers at two mosques on the South Island state of Christchurch. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern termed it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.

The Stormers are expected to leave for the Land of the Long White Cloud on Sunday, but already the tragedy has had a major impact on sporting events in the region.

The Bangladesh cricket team, who were on their way to one of the mosques at Hagley Oval where the mass killings occurred, have already had their third Test match with the Black Caps and remainder of the tour cancelled.

Equally, the Highlanders and Crusaders’ Super Rugby match in Dunedin was cancelled on Saturday morning with both teams receiving two points.

"After consulting widely with both teams and key stakeholders, New Zealand Rugby has decided to cancel this evening's match," NZ Rugby's chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said on Saturday.

"Advice from police and venue management was that the fixture could go ahead, however, with strong agreement from both teams we have made the final call not to proceed as a mark of respect for the events that have occurred in Christchurch."

Fleck, speaking after the Stormers’ 35-8 bonus point victory over the Jaguares at Newlands on Friday evening, said that they were still planning to leave as per scheduled.

“We have had no discussions about the security situation as yet‚” he said.

“We are getting on that flight and if anything changes that will be relayed. Obviously our sympathy and well wishes go out to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand. These are tough times there‚ but we are on that flight.”

The Stormers touring party to New Zealand where they will face the Hurricanes in Wellington and Blues in Auckland is expected to include two Muslims - lock Salmaan Moerat and Strength and Conditioning coach Riefaat Jappie. There has been no indication as yet that any extra security arrangements will be made for them.

They will be joined by lock Eben Etzebeth after there were concerns that the Springbok may not make the trip after leaving the field at halftime of the Jaguares match with a head injury.

The initial fears were that it may have been severe concussion with the towering second-rower stumbling along before being replaced by Cobus Wiese.

“Eben will be on the trip. There are four games there and he was going to miss one game on tour anyway [due to Springbok resting protocol]. Now he does not get to choose which game he rests for. It is decided for him,” Fleck said.

“He is probably going to be out for that first game. He took a bit of a knock and failed his HIA [head impact assessment] test. It looks like he might be out of that first game. But that is OK. There are some young guns who are looking for an opportunity.”


IOL Sport

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