All Black fullback Israel Dagg runs in to score a try
against Scotland at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.
Wales take their squad for cryogenic training in Poland,
the Springboks use the natural advantages of practice at high
altitude, but the All Blacks seem the best-conditioned rugby
They speak about running their foes ragged with a combination
of accurate handling, multi-phase possession and spreading
In essence, no secret there. Opponents like Scotland earlier
today at Murrayfield, knew what to expect. It's whether they
could counter and keep up.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks want to play faster and faster,
reasoning that if their skills hold up and they recycle ball
well, they'll find holes in defences. When it is their turn
to tackle, they back their fitness to hold their line.
Estimates vary but one of the more mobile All Blacks may
cover 10km during an international.
The question remains: If the All Blacks can sustain a certain
fitness level why can't others emulate them?
"We don't know what they do," assistant coach Ian Foster
said. "What's important to us is having players on the park
with a full tank of gas."
The experience of trainer Nic Gill and the medical group led
by Dr Deb Robinson allowed the All Blacks to fashion their
week to suit their condition and their next assignment.
When the initial All Black squad was picked in May, the
coaches inherited a group of players with different fitness
levels who had played a lot of rugby, been little used or
were recovering from injury.
There was no blanket approach to getting each player ready
for test rugby. Some like Ma'a Nonu needed a lot of rehab
training but no games because of his workload.
"We fully understand fans' expectation that players should go
out week after week and perform. But the reality is that the
science and the mental side behind that, shows you can't do
that every single week," said Foster.
"That deal with Ma'a was not three weeks' holiday. He
probably trained harder than if he was playing but we were
able to charge his body and refresh his mind because he
wasn't getting smashed around.
"He put fuel in the tank for the rest of the year."
Breaks from the game differed. Some benefited by going home
to their families, others were served better by staying with
Mixing up the selections for Scotland and Italy on this end
of year trip was another example of "looking after" the
- by Wynne Gray in Edinburgh