(Reuters) – New Zealand captain Sam Whitelock will not feature in the remainder of this season’s Rugby Championship due to quarantine issues, the All Blacks have announced.

Whitelock did not travel to Australia with the rest of the All Blacks squad for the competition as he, Richie Mo’unga and Aaron Smith, remained in New Zealand on paternity leave.

The final matches in four-nation competition are being played in Queensland from Sunday until Oct. 2, but the 32-year-old was unable to secure a place in quarantine in Australia early enough to be available.

“Samuel Whitelock is to stay in New Zealand and will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship,” New Zealand Rugby said in a statement.

“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.

“New Zealand Rugby understands that quarantine spots in Queensland are limited and are hugely appreciative of the efforts by Queensland Health, Rugby Australia and SANZAAR in assisting with this matter.”

Mo’unga, however, will arrive in Queensland on Tuesday and is expected to be available for the meeting with the world champion Springboks.

Whitelock will return to the All Blacks squad for their tour of the northern hemisphere, which begins on Oct. 23 when they face the United States.

(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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