Brumbies halfback Joe Powell has jumped ship to the Melbourne Rebels, who have announced a mass exodus of nine players.
The Brumbies are moving their Super Rugby training base to Newcastle, 443 kms away, because of the hazardous air conditions in Canberra.
The franchise’s facilities at the University of Canberra have been closed indefinitely as the bushfires devastating Australia cast a smoky pall over the nation’s capital.
Some air quality stations in Canberra have been returning readings nearly three times above extremely hazardous levels.
With players set to return to training on Monday, ahead of round one in less than four weeks, the Brumbies said the air quality had become a player welfare issue.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the devastating events throughout the country,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
“The small changes we have had to make are nothing in comparison to the distressing position so many people in our region are sadly experiencing at the moment.
“Player welfare is always a priority and temporarily moving to Newcastle will allow us to to continue to prepare for our round one match.”
The WNBL has already cancelled a match at the AIS while the Canberra International tennis tournament has been relocated to Bendigo in country Victoria due to bushfires and smoke haze.