Security for the All Blacks in Paris on their end-of-year tour will be stepped up in the wake of the ongoing terror attacks in France.
Steve Hansen's back-to-back world champions will take four games on the road in November, facing Ireland in Chicago and Dublin, Italy in Rome and France in Paris.
With recent high-profile terror attacks seeing 217 people killed in Paris and Nice, terror experts expect French agencies to provide an armed motorcade for the All Blacks to and from the Stade de France for the November 27 clash.
The Stade de France is just 8km from the Bataclan theatre where 89 people were massacred last November. Dr Paul Buchanan, a former intelligence and defence consultant to US Government agencies, says European terror attacks would have officials in a state of "heightened security" for the All Blacks' visit.
He believed armed guards will accompany the All Blacks during the French leg of the season-ending tour. Buchanan said although rugby's lower profile than football makes it a less likely target, if the world's top team travelled without armed protection, that carried the risk of an opportunist attack.
"France is an issue. It has not only been a target, but France and Belgium are the seed of homegrown Islamic extremism in Europe. Increased precautions have to at least be thought of when it comes to the All Blacks travelling in France," Buchanan told the Herald on Sunday.
"It would be prudent for the French gendarmes to surround the buses and they will certainly surround the stadiums with increased security, because if nothing else it's a deterrent.
"Some of these guys [terrorists] are seasoned fighters, veterans who know how to plan, but a lot are opportunists. So when you put heavily armed police riding on a motorcade, the show of force alone will deter those kinds of opportunists."
The All Blacks have previously been protected by armed guards in France. At the 2007 Rugby World Cup, several elite armed police officers - who were decked out in All Blacks training and casual gear - accompanied the team.
New Zealand Rugby were this week silent about security plans. General manager Neil Sorensen said it took the "safety and wellbeing of our players very seriously, especially when they are travelling overseas".
NZ Rugby would not answer questions about security planning for the tour, including whether the All Blacks will have armed guards and whether it will seek independent advice. It will liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Buchanan expected NZ Rugby bosses to also be working with French authorities.
"A heightened state of security must be adapted by NZR and the French," he said. "I'm fairly confident the French police, in light of these repeat attacks, are working very hard to better co-ordinate intelligence on the possibility that an All Blacks tour might be targeted."
Chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association, Rob Nichol - who has been involved in overseas security for 15 years - said the issue of armed guards would rely on advice from experts.
It is usual to have site visits two months before an event and constant information updates.
"Our teams have toured through Europe before when times have not been that settled, and we've had a Rugby World Cup in France, the security measures the French Government are capable of putting in place are quite phenomenal," he said.
Nichol also said administrators should make the call about whether it was safe to travel.
"This business of 'it's up to the athletes to decide if they go or not' is completely unfair. If the administration determine it is okay to go, then they're saying they've got the team's safety in hand," he said.
Nichol said no All Blacks had yet expressed concerns over Paris.