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22 ABs to miss half of the S14



group of approximately 22 All Blacks will miss the opening seven rounds of the Rebel Sport Super 14 next year as they take part in an intensive conditioning programme in preparation for the World Cup in France.

The controversial programme was approved by the New Zealand Rugby Union Board last Friday following extensive consultation with the All Blacks coaches and management, the All Blacks, the Super 14 Franchises, Sky TV, sponsors and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association.

The players will join the Super 14 in the eighth round in April after participating in an individually tailored and intensive 12-week programme geared to get them into peak physical and mental shape for the World Cup campaign.

"We want to give the All Blacks the best possible chance of winning the Rugby World Cup," said NZRU chief executive Chris Moller in a statement.

"It is clear the rugby public of New Zealand share that ambition. It is critical that our top players have the opportunity to prepare in the right way so that they are in the best shape of their lives when they get to France.

"Sports science research and our coaches tell us that the players need a continuous window when they can do the necessary physical conditioning work without the rigours of playing top level rugby at the same time. The challenge has been to find that window."

Moller said that the NZRU Board had considered a number of other options but, based on a variety of factors including learnings from past RWC campaigns and the sports science advice available, it was agreed that January to April was the best window.

"We would not want to take the leading players out of November's tour to Europe or next year's Philips Tri Nations. There needs to be a conditioning window following the end of the 2006 season, which will require those players to miss the first seven rounds of the 2007 Rebel Sport Super 14 competition. This timing will maximise the benefits of the conditioning activity as it follows the summer break for the All Blacks, who will then be able to start their conditioning programme fresh."

It is envisaged that those players, who are not selected for the conditioning programme, but who are in contention for World Cup selection, will take a full part in their Super 14 campaigns and undertake some recovery and reconditioning activity after that tournament.

The 22 players will be named after this year's Tri Nations championship. The All Blacks have two tests left in that tournament after winning the ***le in Auckland last Saturday night. They face the Springboks twice in South Africa over the next two Saturdays.

An extra 22 players would be drafted into the Super 14 to cover their absence. Moller admitted this would be a costly exercise but it was a cost the NZRU was willing to take on in the quest to win back the World Cup.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry noted that the selected All Blacks would be hard at work during the conditioning window.

Intensive Programme

"The team's strength and conditioning coaches will have the players on intensive training programmes, and they will monitor those programmes closely, along with trainers within each franchise."

Henry said that player welfare remained a key issue for the NZRU and All Blacks management and the conditioning programme was a response to the demands of test match rugby; and the desire of the coaches to have the team in peak condition for theWorld Cup.

All Blacks strength and conditioning coach Graham Lowe said the conditioning programme was a key part of the team's World Cup preparations and specific programmes would be developed for each player, focused on the player's specific requirements and having regard to the timing of the World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby Players Association Executive Director Rob Nichol said that given the current landscape initiatives such as the conditioning programme provide for the best chance of success on the international stage and also assist in preserving the welfare of our players. View larger image

A cautious thumbs up from Graham Henry
©Getty Images

"We are supportive of the programme. It is another initiative designed to assist us in managing the demands on our international players for the benefit of the individual, the team and New Zealand rugby.

"The conditioning programme is providing an opportunity for our leading players to step back from the playing environment to rebuild themselves physically in terms of strength, speed and skills, while also refreshing themselves mentally - all things that can not happen to the extent that is required given the prolonged nature of the current season," said Nichol.

"It is important for everyone to understand that it is not a rest - the players identified will be on a structured and intensive physical training programme designed to produce the results sought and place them in the best possible physical and mental condition from which to undertake the challenges of next season and perform to their potential "

Mr Nichol said the absence of the selected conditioning players from the Rebel Sport Super 14 does create a number of challenges but from a player perspective, there were also new opportunities.

"New Zealand's rugby depth will be tested but we believe the talent, from a coach, player and administrative perspective is there. It is now up to us all to work on doing everything possible to give them the best chance of succeeding."

"From a public perspective we want to encourage the fans to be understanding of what the programme is attempting to achieve and to get in behind and support the New Zealand Rebel Sport Super 14 teams as they in turn step up to meet the challenge."

Bah Canterbury is going to be f'ed over. I don't even think I'll bother watching it. It will be like the Air New Zealand Cup all over again.

I heard Australia & South Africa are thinking of doing the same.
This must suck for kiwi fans... i hope the Force dont do the same.

It'll be interesting to see how a team like the Crusaders go without Carter,McCaw,Gear,Mauger,Jack,MacDonald..etc.


A backline somthing like that doesn't look very intimidating.
they will go fine I think. they play without the abs in most of the air nz cup every year. the super 14 is a step up but in recent years players that have peformed at provincial level have also stepped up at super 14 level.

if the kiwi teams still perform and win the super 14 nobody will really care too much about the abs missing the first 7 rounds.
Twenty-two players to get Super 14 rest
12 September 2006

All Blacks management has confirmed the 22 players to undertake a conditioning programme early next year, a move that coach Graham Henry argues is critical to the welfare of this country's leading players.

"Many of our best athletes have played several years of continuous rugby without a chance to really get their bodies right," Henry said in a statement tonight.

"The conditioning programme is important for their well being in the long term and also important to our chances of winning the World Cup."

Henry's move to rest players for seven weeks during the Super 14 in 2007 has sparked fierce debate and led to the competition's financial backer, News Ltd, signalling it will seek compensation.

News Ltd signed a $660 million contracted with the Sanzar unions â€" South Africa, New Zealand and Australia â€" in 2004.

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman Jock Hobbs travelled to Sydney last week to placate the broadcaster, and both parties will return to the negotiating table to avoid the prospect of litigation.

Henry's plan to condition 22 World Cup contenders during the Super 14 angered News Ltd, who claimed it had not been advised of the NZRU's plan.

Henry emphasised that participation in the conditioning programme did not guarantee a place in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad next year.

"We have included 22 of our leading players in the conditioning programme, but there are no guarantees.

"There is a long way to go before we name the World Cup squad and a large group of players are pushing for selection. The door is definitely open."

The players have been named now to allow Super 14 franchises time to plan their campaigns and identify players who will join their squads while the All Blacks take part in their conditioning programme next year.

Henry noted that the group of 14 forwards and eight backs would not change in the event of injuries during the domestic Air New Zealand Cup or the All Blacks' tour of Europe in November.

Prop Greg Somerville has been named in the conditioning group, even though a long-term injury will see him sidelined for an estimated six months anyway.

He tore his achilles during the Tri-Nations test against South Africa in Pretoria

Players selected for the conditioning programme:-

Forwards: Jerry Collins (Wellington), Jason Eaton (Taranaki), Carl Hayman (Otago), Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Chris Jack (Tasman), Richie McCaw (Canterbury), Chris Masoe (Wellington), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Anton Oliver (Otago), Greg Somerville (Canterbury), Rodney So'oialo (Wellington), Reuben Thorne (Canterbury), Ali Williams (Auckland), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour).

Backs: Dan Carter (Canterbury), Byron Kelleher (Waikato), Leon MacDonald (Canterbury), Aaron Mauger (Canterbury), Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Joe Rokocoko (Auckland), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato), Piri Weepu (Wellington).



no surprises there
not really maybe only one would be howlett for sivivatu. sivi has been injured a lot this year and hasn't played as many games a howlett and would benefite from playing most of the super 14 imo. the rest can't really argue with it all.
Yeah interesting there. Seems as though Sivi and Joe are the first choicers now, although Henry did say that Howlett & Gear are players that can look after their own conditioning in an interview on allblacks.com. Also I think I heard somewhere that the Aussies aren't going to do the same in the Super 14.
Agreed with esoj. I dont think our teams wont be affected that much, we have good depth and we're kinda used to it with the old NPC during the trinations, infact theres a headstart now with the AirNZ cup already into stage 2 and 30 ABs missing since the beginning due to trinations duty, so its nothing new thats for sure.
this is how they scrape out:

blues 4
cheifs 3
hurricanes 6
crusaders 7
highlanders 2

looks like my two teams (auckland and highlanders) arnt going to suffer too badly. but i dont think this is worth making a fuss over, there is obvous reasons for taking them out and after all its only for one half of it.

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