Friday, 23 February 2018

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All Blacks players and coaches alike aren't sure if their latest experiment with rest will achieve the desired results. Captain Kieran Read and four other senior All Blacks joined the squad a week late, leaving them time at home to rest and focus on the opening tour Test against France in Paris on Saturday. Read, Sam Whitelock, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett and Sonny Bill Williams all skipped the build-up and the match when the world champions beat the Barbarians in London last week. All with young families, it was hoped they would benefit from time away from the touring grind. Coach Steve Hansen admits the tactic has an experimental feel as he seeks new ways to have players firing near the conclusion of another long and travel-heavy season. The same ploy was tried during the Rugby Championship, when five players didn't travel to Buenos Aires to face the Pumas, instead going straight to South Africa for the subsequent Test Springboks Test. Following a patchy one-point win in Cape Town, Hansen was forced to concede some of the rested group hadn't been at their best, casting doubt over the theory. "We've tried some different things. The big boys will be back on the track this week and it's a big Test," he said. "I don't know if we've got them to peak yet but we're going to find out. I hope so otherwise we've wasted our time doing it." Whitelock is the only player to have been in both rested groups - probably because of his taxing campaign as captain of the Super Rugby champion Crusaders. The 29-year-old lock is unsure if the break will add zip to his game.

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