Rennie: 'Training camps an annual event'
If Chiefs coach Dave Rennie's thoughts are anything to go by, then expect the All Blacks training camps to become an annual occurrence.
Speaking at Chiefs training on Wednesday following the return of his side's contingent, Rennie said the decision to hold the camps was finalised 'a couple of years ago' and would likely become part of annual preparations for the June Test window.
"Ultimately our job is to help serve the All Blacks. It's a pretty simple way of making sure that when they head into June against the French they'll be pretty organised," said Rennie.
Rennie said there were two options presented to coaches when the idea of training camps were presented. One idea was to take the 38 wider training squad members for the final week of action ahead of the June window, but the second option – a shorter length period that would allow player to represent their franchises on the weekend – was the one that found favour.
"They don't flog them," said Rennie of the camps.
"Our guys have had plenty of time together and we know what we're trying to do so it's pretty seamless and it's the same for everyone."
The timing of the camps meant New Zealand sides were facing each other, negating any sort of advantage one team could have over the other. The advanced notice meant teams were able to prepare for the loss of key players during training.
As such, Rennie said he had provided those who were a part of the wider training squad with a review of their 17-12 win over the Hurricanes in Round 13. The players were also given a brief of Friday's home match at Waikato Stadium.
Despite the relatively relaxed atmosphere in the camps, some light training was enough for Chiefs prop Ben Afeaki to tweak his calf enough to miss his side's battle with the Crusaders on Friday.
Rennie was quick to reiterate that the injury wasn't too serious, suggesting it could be as little as a one-week break.
The prop's injury is one of two changes to the side's starting XV, with Patrick Osborne - a former Crusader - slotting in on the wing at the expense of Lelia Masaga.
Recovering flanker is one of three injured players scheduled to make their return from the bench.
Adding to the Chiefs' motivation of consolidating their position atop the Super Rugby ladder was some extra banter that took place down in Mt Maunganui between the two sides.
Kick-off between the Chiefs and Crusaders at Waikato Stadium is scheduled to take place at 7.35pm.