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Rugby-NZ's rest policy is affecting international careers - Brown

Reuters | Wellington | Updated: 09-02-2020 08:53 IST | Created: 09-02-2020 08:43 IST
Rugby-NZ's rest policy is affecting international careers - Brown

New Zealand Rugby's (NZR) controversial player management policy could be costing fringe All Blacks their international careers, according to Otago Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown. The policy, which manages the All Blacks playing minutes in the opening weeks of Super Rugby and ensures they are given at least two weeks off during the competition, has been heavily criticised in recent years.

Critics have said the lack of All Blacks in Super Rugby was contributing to a fall off in crowd numbers and viewing figures and that the policy showed NZR was downgrading the competition. Brown, a former All Blacks flyhalf who is also the assistant coach for the Japanese national team, however, said the one-size-fits-all policy hampered those players on the fringes.

"It's always been the sort of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read plan, where they need to give those guys all a rest," Brown told New Zealand's Newstalk ZB on Sunday. "To keep it all even they make it mandatory to rest every All Black. "(But) I think in the past it's actually cost a few players their All Black careers.

"If you look at the Highlanders, guys like (former players) Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Elliot Dixon, those sort of guys who actually didn't get a lot of time for the All Blacks, those guys getting rested as well didn't allow them to prepare for Super Rugby. "And then their Super Rugby form actually cost them their All Blacks spot."

Typically most All Blacks are involved in a 10-month season that starts with Super Rugby in early-mid February and ends following their tour of Europe that wraps up around early December. Super Rugby made its earliest start in its 25-year history this year, although most All Blacks also finished a month earlier than usual in 2019 with the World Cup ending on Nov. 3.

Super Rugby teams start pre-season training in November with international players joining the sides in late January and Brown said that it often affected their early season fitness, which allowed other players to surpass them. "The guys who actually need the training and the fitness and the game time, they've got to get out there and play and try and hold on to their All Black positions," he said.

"There's so many good rugby players who did get quality pre-season time in (like) Sevu Reece. He came over the top of Waisake Naholo last year because of that," he added in reference to Reece supplanting Naholo in the All Blacks. "I think it's got to be a case by case and we've got to have our top players preparing to play Super Rugby."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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