All Blacks coach Ian Foster has defended New Zealand Rugby’s player management policy but says it will be reviewed after coming under criticism.
Under new regulations brought in under previous All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, All Blacks players have been restricted to just 180 minutes across the opening three matches of the Vodacom Super Rugby season. These players were prevented from taking part in the pre-season fixtures and are required to be rested for at least two games.
The restrictions have lead to heavy criticism from some of the Super Rugby coaches in New Zealand, including Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown. The likes of Sir John Kirwan and former All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett also voiced their annoyance with the policy.
In an interview with Stuff.co.nz, Foster confirmed that the All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby would review the restrictions, but added that there had to be a policy in place to ensure that All Blacks were properly managed throughout the year.
‘It’s an unideal situation,’ Foster said. ‘What I’d love is all top players playing however many minutes their team needs them to play every game, because that’s what everyone wants.
‘But what we do know is that there are no other full-contact sports in the world that start on January 31 and go to November 20, with very few breaks in between. That means, alongside the Super Rugby franchises and players, we’ve come up with a formula we think is fair for the well-being of our top players.
‘If you could make that gap between the end-of-year tour and start of Super Rugby bigger, then we’d go for it. We’ve learned through science players are most susceptible to major injury when they first come back after a break or when they’re fatigued in the latter part of a game. It seems common sense to have a graduated return.’
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