Travel the key word as players work around camps

The prospective All Blacks in the Highlanders are going to get their air miles up over the next three months.

The somewhat controversial All Black camps have been confirmed with the dates released yesterday.

The camps have been proposed by All Black coach Steve Hansen as a way to get All Blacks up to speed before the test series against France in June.

Last year, the All Blacks had two weeks together before taking on the British and Irish Lions in the first test.

But with the season kicking off for New Zealand teams last night, the calendar has tightened up and there is just one week between round 16 of Super Rugby and the first test against France at Eden Park.

New Zealand Rugby had come up with an agreement to hold some camps, which Hansen wanted to set the foundation of the season for prospective All Blacks.

The first camps will be one-day affairs and will be split into North Island and South Island camps.

The South Island camps will take place on March 12 and April 16, both in Christchurch. The Highlanders play at home on March 17 against the Crusaders so prospective All Blacks will miss one day of training.

The team will play the Blues in Auckland on April 20 so the players will miss a training day in preparation for the match.

The three-day camps will come later and will be when the Highlanders are playing two Australian teams over the Ditch.

The side takes on the Waratahs in Sydney on May 19 and the camp starts in Auckland the next day. The Highlanders are planning to stay in Australia because the next week, they take on the Reds in Brisbane.

So the prospective All Blacks are likely to go to Auckland and then fly back to Australia, though coach Aaron Mauger may opt to rest them for the Reds game.

The second camp is a week after the first one and the Highlanders will be on their way home from Brisbane.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger had previously said he was relaxed about the camps and just got on with the season.

The Hurricanes, Blues and Reds all play in New Zealand in that two-week period, though the Chiefs have two games in South Africa.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew also told media yesterday All Blacks were to have two games off before the June break to avoid burn-out. It was up to the Super Rugby coaches to decide what games the players would miss.

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