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Fatigue factor hangs over All Blacks

08:23 Tue Nov 27 2012
AAP
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith hopes the All Blacks can combat tiredness after another marathon rugby year.

Fatigue has emerged as a factor for the All Blacks to contend with ahead of their final Test of the year against England on Saturday (Sunday morning NZT).

The New Zealand pack showed signs of their travel-weary legs in the second half of their 33-10 win over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday as they failed to add to the scoreboard in the final quarter of the match for the first time this year.

A travel-heavy schedule that involves regular flights to South Africa, Australia and Argentina for Super Rugby and Test matches takes it toll, according to All Blacks centre Conrad Smith.

"I think I've played 26 games this year and I think the right number would be a little less than that. It's a long year," Smith said.

"And that's just the challenge for all players and coaches, playing every game of Super Rugby probably didn't help. I don't think you'll ever see a player play his best all the way through the 10 months we play."

Assistant coach Ian Foster said combating tiredness will be a priority for team management this week.

"We are changing things a little bit. It's about taking the same model and just taking a certain per cent off each of the sessions really," he said.

With the finish line in sight, Foster is eager to ensure the All Blacks don't trip at the final hurdle of what has been an unbeaten 2012 season.

"We like our processes, what we go through, so we can't afford to skip too many of those during the week," he said.

"Certainly the focus is more on the mind and the body, making sure they're sharp for Saturday, rather than intensity."