All Blacks to sit out early Super Rugby rounds

Eight All Blacks will miss at least the first round of the 2015 Super Rugby season as preparations for the Rugby World Cup begin.

Reports emerged in September 2014 stating that all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams will have to juggle their All Blacks in order to keep them fresh for the world cup.

New Zealand Rugby high performance manager Don Tricker, All Blacks strength and conditioning trainer Nick Gill as well as physiotherapist Peter Gallagher have all visited the Super Rugby teams in the past week to discuss and plan player-management.

The Blues, Crusaders and Chiefs have all chosen to rest a number of their All Blacks in the opening round while the Highland start the season with a bye. The Hurricanes start their season in South Africa so they will rest their players mid-season.

All Blacks centurion Keven Mealamu can expect to miss the first three weeks of Super Rugby which will allow him to remain home while the Blues tour South Africa which gives James Parsons a chance to gain more experience.

Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu will also miss the opening round against the Chiefs at North Harbour.

“All our players except for Patrick Tuipulotu and Keven Mealamu will be available round one in some form,” Blues coach Sir John Kirwan told Stuff.

“That’s something we’ve committed to. At this stage it’s probably best to leave Keven behind and get him ready for when we come home. Then he’ll be fresh and he can go for it.”

That opening match will also see the Chiefs resting Aaron Cruden, world player of the year Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam rested giving opportunities to brothers Damian and Marty McKenzie at 10.

“Brodie, Aaron and Liam won’t play round one,” Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.

“We’ve know that for a while so we’ll plan around that accordingly.”

The Crusaders will rest Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock until the fifth round of Super Rugby on a mini-sabbatical while Israel Dagg will miss the first game against the Melbourne Rebels.

The rest of the Crusaders All Blacks including Dan Carter and Richie McCaw will be available for selection.

“Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock won’t be available until round five and Israel Dagg will sit out round one,” Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said.

“Otherwise, everyone is available.”

The Highlanders start the season a week later than everyone else so they have an internal trial planned for the week and coach Jamie Joseph expects Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa to feature in that match.

“Based on their fitness levels and where they’re at, it would be nice to give them a trot in the trial, but if they’re not quite right it’s a bloody long year for those guys so there’s no real urgency to get them back for an internal game,” Joseph said.

“It’s more about getting them prepared for a long season.”

New Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd is hoping to be able to field his All Blacks in their opening match in Johannesburg against the Lions.

“Potentially everybody is available to play week one against the Lions. Some of those guys will have to play not having had any pre-season football. Some guys are comfortable with that because they don’t enjoy the pre-season stuff anymore.

“Others said they need a 40-minute hit-out against the Blues (in pre-season) so we’re just tidying that up.

“There’s probably only going to be half a dozen games in the year where we’ve got the luxury of fielding on paper our top side. By and large we’ll try and find two weeks off for most of our All Blacks.”

Even though coaches are judged on results and how they fair in the Super Rugby season all five franchises appear to be committed to helping the All Blacks.

“We’re all on the same page,” Kirwan said.

“We need to find the time to give them those two weeks off. That will be a challenge but our coaching staff will look at the season and particular games. It will put a huge emphasis on the whole squad.”

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