A lack of available slots in managed quarantine has ended Samoa's hopes of selecting two former New Zealand internationals for their national sevens team.
The Manu Samoa and Manusina Sevens teams have selected entirely homegrown squads to compete in the final Olympic Sevens Qualification Tournament in Monaco later this month.
One former All Black and a former New Zealand Sevens star had been poised to switch their international allegiance to Samoa in two weeks.
But Lakapi Samoa's General Manager of High Performance, Seumanu Douglas Ngau Chun, said the players were unable to secure slots in New Zealand's managed
quarantine facilities after the tournament, so will instead have to return home early.
"The issue with the quarantine sites in New Zealand is one of the reasons why they weren't able to compete because they need MIQ sites on their return, but unfortunately we can't secure that for them," he said.
"Hence why we've focused on a full local squad, and we maintain our priority of making sure that we qualify for the Olympics."
A number of Samoa's New Zealand-based sevens stars, including Alamanda Motuga, Losi Filipo and Tomasi Alosio, will also miss the Olympic repechage tournament, having faced the same problem in trying to secure an MIQ place for their return to New Zealand.
"Some of the players that have been selected for the fifteens team are supposed to be in the sevens but unfortunately with the Covid they can not get any MIQ spots on return," Seumanu explained.
"That's the big issue that we're facing for our international players - even we're struggling to get a physio. We have to go as far as getting a physio from France because our two physios that were supposed to be from New Zealand they can travel but they can't return back because of MIQ spots."
The New Zealand based speedsters have a pretty good consolation prize, after being included in the Manu Samoa squad to face the Māori All Blacks and Tonga in June and July.
Samoa had also planned to be involved in the PacificAus Sports Oceania Rugby Sevens tournament in Townsville, which was announced yesterday, but were foiled again by New Zealand's Covid-19 travel restrictions.
"The New Zealand government didn't allow us to enter (from Samoa) so we weren't able to plan at all how to get to Australia," Seumanu explained.
"So unfortunately we are not able to have any matches with any of the international teams so we will be going straight to Monaco without any matches."
Seumanu said one benefit in selecting a locally based squad for the Monaco tournament is that the players known each other well and have been training together for a number of months, under the watchful eyes of coaches Muliagatele Brian Lima and Auimatagi Sapani Pomare.
"The local coaches were planning to have some overseas players but we're confident with the squads that have been selected and we know the boys and girls selected in both teams will do well for us."
The Manu Samoa and Manusina squads, who are both fully vaccinated against Covid-19, left Apia on Friday and will transit through Auckland en route to Dubai, England and France.
The teams will hold a week-long training camp in Nice before heading to Monaco for the Olympic Repechage on 19/20 June.