Their supporters may not be so understanding but the Chiefs are taking a pragmatic approach to a clash which will strip them of up to eight All Blacks while in South Africa this season.

New Zealand Rugby on Friday finally released dates of six All Blacks camps to be staged during Super Rugby this season, and the Chiefs appear to have copped the worst of the clash in scheduling.

The All Blacks will hold four one-day camps this year; two in Christchurch and two more in the North Island. All Blacks in the Crusaders and Highlanders will attend the South Island camps; those in the Blues, Hurricanes and Chiefs the ones in Auckland and Wellington.

These seem minor with no major clashes but two more three-day camps later in the season create much more disruption.


The Chiefs are scheduled to play the Sharks in Durban on May 20, and chief executive Michael Collins confirmed to the Herald a clash with the first three-day All Blacks camp will rob coach Colin Cooper of eight All Blacks that week.

This includes Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Damian McKenzie, Nepo Laulala, Kane Hames, Nathan Harris, Anton Lienert-Brown and Atu Moli.

It will be a hugely challenging week for a franchise already coping with major change after the departures of coach Dave Rennie and All Blacks halves Aaron Cruden and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

The game against the Sharks is the second of a two-leg African tour. The Chiefs' All Blacks are now expected to return home after facing the Stormers in Cape Town.

"We understand the players that are selected for the French series will be required to attend the camp that clashes with the Sharks game," Collins said. "Obviously not ideal from our point of view, you want to put your very best team on the park but in saying that we recognise the need to support those players and their aspirations to be All Blacks.

"It's going to be massively challenging and to make it worse those matches in South Africa the stadiums there are a real caldron. It's a pretty unique experience. It is challenging but it is what it is. We've been forewarned through November and December when the consultation with NZ Rugby was on-going. The coaches will be strategising how they overcome those issues."

The second three-day All Blacks camp comes in a week where the Crusaders host the Hurricanes in Christchurch. This means Chris Boyd and Scott Robertson may only have two days with their full squads before the Friday night derby.

As with previous years, NZ Super Rugby franchises are required to rest All Blacks from two games to ensure they last the full season. The Sharks game will clearly tick one box on that front for the Chiefs, but other New Zealand teams will probably look to stagger their resting.

"Our philosophy is we want all our players to develop and become All Blacks," Collins added. "We also want to win games so it's balancing those two things and understanding the congested nature of the season structure.

"It's not ideal for the Chiefs but we also need to play our part in the wider New Zealand scheme and player welfare. That's going to become more and more prevalent as the seasons roll on.

"The squads are pretty deep. You take a position like openside flanker and the world-class Sam Cane. You hope Lachlan Boshier and Mitchell Karpik are going to be pushing for a start. I guess the coaches will use the Sharks game to give those guys a run if they're still outside the starting team at that stage."

Earlier on Friday, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew reiterated the view that All Blacks needed to be carefully managed.

"The camps are driven by the fact that our players and clubs wanted to start later than the South Africans did, and because of the calendar, which comes right in 2020, we don't have any time for the All Blacks to prepare for a test series against France.

"I think quite logically, but not ideal for anybody, we have said we need the All Blacks coaches to have some face-time with the players before we start a test series against a country that our fans, and ourselves, expect us to be competitive against."

All Blacks camps:

South Island camps in Christchurch:

Monday 12 March
Monday 16 April

North Island camps:

Tuesday 20 March in Auckland
Monday 23 April in Wellington

Three-day camps:

Sunday 20 May – Tuesday 22 May in Auckland
Sunday 27 May – Tuesday 29 May in Christchurch