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Why there needs to be 'common sense' with ABs resting policy during SR

By Finn Morton
Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett. (Photos by Getty Images)

Broadcaster Tony Johnson has weighed up the pros and cons of the All Blacks’ resting policy ahead of the new Super Rugby season.


With this year’s Rugby World Cup in France just around the corner, the All Blacks want to ensure that there players are fit and raring to go ahead of the prestigious tournament.

As discussed by New Zealand journalist Jason Pine, All Blacks players will not be able to feature in more than five Super Rugby matches in a row.

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While this news is undoubtedly disappointing for fans, coaches, broadcaster and other stakeholders, New Zealand Rugby are clearly prioritising this year’s shot at rugby immortality.

Sky Sports commentator Tony Johnson said he “can understand’ the frustrations that fans may have, but suggested that this year is different.

“I can understand why people get frustrated at the way good players are given leave from Super Rugby. I mean it’s a strategically vital competition,” Johnson said on Weekend Sport with Jason Pine.

“We want it to be a showcase for our best players, and yet NZR constantly (allowing) players to miss it for a sabbatical… and crucial players are made to sit out, particularly vital game, for the sake of the All Blacks.


“I do think this year is a bit different, and what they’re proposing, while I can understand people’s frustrations… it is a World Cup year.”

Not only are All Blacks required to play no more than five Super Rugby matches during the regular season, but the playoffs are also included.

Hypothetically, star players including Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea may be deemed unavailable for decisive matches.

“I think there needs to be acceptance that players do need breaks from time to time,” he added.


“They take a hammering so they need a break physically, they need a break mentally. I think the training is the other thing that they could do with a (break) from time to time.

“There needs to be some common sense.


“To me, an injury break… if a player has two weeks off because of an injury, that should count as part of the rest, or even a suspension.

“There needs to be some common sense about it all, and personally I don’t think it should apply to the playoffs.

“Suddenly in the case of the Crusaders, you realise you actually have to rest Richie Mo’unga from either the last round robin game or a quarter-final or whatever. Or it could be Dalton Papali’i at the Blues.

“It’s a juggling act for coaches, it’s frustrating for the fans. (But) I do understand the need to have some sort of rest.

“I think five weeks, a maximum of five weeks in a row, is not unreasonable in a World Cup year.”

Super Rugby Pacific starts later this month with a blockbuster between the champion Crusaders and the Chiefs.

On that same day, which is February 24, the Waratahs will kick-off their campaign against the ACT Brumbies at Allianz Stadium.


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