New Zealand coach Graham Henry is planning to rest his ‘overdone’ players during the Tri Nations series to avoid fatigue at this year's Rugby World Cup.
New Zealand face Fiji on 22 July before competing in the Tri-Nations against Australia and South Africa with the last of their four matches on 27 August, less than a fortnight before the start of the World Cup they are hosting.
Henry said only an effective management of the players' workload could keep alive the All Blacks' hopes of repeating their 1987 World Cup triumph on home soil in the September / October tournament.
‘I think a lot of them are overdone at the moment,’ Henry told BBC Radio 5live of his players.
‘Take (Super rugby finalists) the Crusaders for example. They have been all over the world and have been playing on a lot of emotion. They can't maintain that level of intensity for the next three months.
‘So even though we're going into an international season, we're going to have to bring the players down to bring them back up again. That's going to be a major challenge.’
The Crusaders, the team of influential flyhalf Dan Carter and All Black captain Richie McCaw, lost the Super rugby final to the Queensland Reds on Saturday after playing all their matches away from home after an earthquake in Christchurch damaged their ground.
‘Some players have played too much football, and have had a very emotional experience during that time. Others have been injured and haven't played. They're all different and we're going to have to treat them as individuals to allow them to peak at the right time.’
Henry's comments follow those of his South African counterpart Peter De Villiers, who said his Springbok frontline players were ‘wrecked’ after the Super rugby season which is why he chose to rest 21 of them for the opening two Tri-Series matches.