Workload issues to be managed by All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     02 Aug 2017     Getty Images

The opening game of the series for the All Blacks is against Australia in Sydney on August 19.

Coach Steve Hansen said care would be taken with the workloads of players in the weeks ahead. The Chiefs and Hurricanes players were not working at their fullest at this week's camp in Christchurch due to their recovery from their semifinals while next week's game of three halves would not see all the Crusaders taking part.

Hansen said prop Owen Franks was a case in point and while only 28 years old, he had played a lot of rugby and there was a time coming when issues he has with his Achilles tendons would have to be dealt with and that would mean taking time out of the game.

"He's a vital cog in our team at the moment, especially after losing Charlie. We wouldn't want to lose him for too long a period but we've got plans in place for addressing his long-term career but they're not for public consumption just yet," he said.

Captain and No.8 Kieran Read was battling a knee injury, the product of so much rugby, but his contract was such that pre-hab and rehabilitation factors were included in it.

An assessment would be made of him after the final but Hansen said they were confident he would be fine.

One of the outcomes of the review of the British & Irish Lions series was that the All Blacks, for a number of reasons, did not play enough rugby and they would be working on ensuring those factors didn't rear their head again.

Hansen said his involvement in international rugby since 2001 had taught him that what happened in franchise rugby had no bearing on international play.

In the Australians case they would be bringing the best of all their players together with the added advantage of having more time together because they had been knocked out of Super Rugby early.

"That could be an advantage to them. We've just got to come together quickly and pick up from where we were in June and improve and re-establish ourselves," he said.

Hansen wasn't concerned with first five-eighths Beauden Barrett's inability to stamp himself on games as he had last year.

What he was going through was good for his rugby career, Hansen said.

"He was a supersub for us for a long time and everything went well. He came in in 2016 and couldn't have had a better season. This year one or two things probably haven't gone the way he wanted them to go.

"He's a pretty competitive person and wants to be the best he can be and he will be disappointed with that so he's got to learn how to deal with those little road bumps and when he does that, and as he does that, he will become a better and better rugby player.

"What we've seen of Beauden Barrett so far is only scratching the surface of how good he's going to be," he said.

Barrett was still a young man, in age and in his role in the team, and he was only going to get better, he said.