Hertford Highlander

First-choice ABs to sit out Springbok Test

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news, RWC 2011, Springboks, Super Rugby, Tri Nations on 25 Jul 2011 at 11:17
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Planet Rugby reports that New Zealand will rest at least four key players for Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash against South Africa in a decision which is unlikely to win favor with all of their supporters.

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith confirmed Monday that Crusaders forwards Brad Thorn, Owen Franks and Kieran Read and Blues hooker Keven Mealamu will be released from the All Blacks squad this week to recuperate from tiring Super Rugby campaigns.

Smith said the All Blacks coaches were sticking to a plan to manage the workload of players to ensure none burned out before the World Cup.

But New Zealand fans have been wary of such policies since 2007 when a similar move to rest players backfired at that year’s World Cup.

“We’re just sticking to the plans that we’ve got,” Smith told NZPA.

“So every player is on an individual plan and some are champing at the bit to get out and play, some are a wee bit overcooked … so we’re just sticking to that, making sure that we look after people.

“Our experience is that you’re better to put the ones that are champing at the bit out there. We’re about winning Test matches and the hungry players, the ones that are fresh and ready to go, they’ll be playing.”

The news means both teams will be understrength for the clash with the Springboks entering the game having left 21 players at home.

But Smith said it was unfair to liken the All Blacks’ rest policy with the wholesale move adopted by the Springboks.

“You can’t really compare our situation to what the Springboks have done,” he said.

“The Springboks have made a choice to rest a big group of players. We’re making individual choices on who’s ready to play this week to win the test match and we’re sticking to that.”

Smith said the decision to give players more time off was done with one eye on the World Cup later in the year.

“It’s not so much what they’re saying, it’s more what we’ve observed and experienced in the past and also understanding what we’ve coming up, so it’s a joint decision,” he said.

“There are still a few that have done a lot of travel, who have played a lot of footy, who have got young families – who have been through a lot – who still need a wee bit of time to themselves.”

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