As All Blacks coach Ian Foster works – entirely from home, of course – on various international rugby scenarios that may or may not come to pass this year due to the coronavirus, his main priority is to ensure he and his fellow coaches of New Zealand's top team do all they can to support the country's domestic competitions.
Foster and the rest of New Zealand Rugby's decision makers remain optimistic that professional rugby will return this year via a domestic Super Rugby competition and the Mitre 10 Cup.
For now those two competitions take precedence over a possible All Blacks fixture list and, in an interview with the Herald, Foster confirmed it was possible that some All Blacks coaches and support staff could lend their assistance to unions struggling to maintain a coaching programme under the weight of a pandemic which has put nearly all sectors of society under huge financial pressure.
New Zealand Rugby has already committed to giving a bailout of $250,000 to its five franchises, but fears remain about their viability and that applies even more to the provincial unions who run the grassroots game.
The good news is that should New Zealand's level 4 lockdown continue to work, those domestic competitions may not be too far away from starting in some form and will likely attract attention here and around the world like never before.
The sight of top All Blacks playing in the Mitre 10 Cup will likely give a competition which has increasingly struggled for attention and relevance a massive metaphorical shot in the arm.
Foster is proud of the way his top players are coping but said there was more work to do yet, an oblique reference, perhaps, to a group of Crusaders who were filmed training together in a park next to their headquarters, an apparent flouting of the lockdown regulations which earned the ire of NZ rugby boss Mark Robinson, who called it "unacceptable". "Silly" and "disappointing" was how Foster described it.
However, he said that overall: "It remains really positive. Like anyone, they have their ups and downs – no one is immune to what's going on at the moment and it's probably the uncertainty of what happens after this that eats away when you've got players working really hard on fitness to try to get ready and yet they're not sure when they're going to play.
"That mental uncertainty is always hard to deal with but I'm pretty proud of how they're all dealing with things at the moment and we just have to keep asking more of them over the next two weeks as we learn a bit more information.
"You've got really competitive people and they want to compete. They've all been training hard but they don't get the chance to actually test that level in a competition. That's the mental challenge. The challenge is to keep focusing on the here and now … to learn how to switch on and off and actually forget about the game for large parts of the day, to spend that energy on growing other parts of your life. Grow your relationships … and do some meaningful work that you probably didn't think you'd be doing at this time of year.
"Forget about rugby players though, this is happening to everyone, isn't it? Some of us are still able to work while we're at home – I'm in that boat and I'm lucky. But ultimately it's hardest on those who can't actually do what they want to do while they're at home. The good thing is we're all in this together whether it's rugby or other sectors of the community and there are no excuses for not getting it right."
In a bid to stay connected and share information, New Zealand's five franchises – the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – are in regular contact with each other as well as Foster and All Blacks trainer Nic Gill and physio Pete Gallagher.
The difficult balancing act that our professional players and coaches face is not lost on Foster. While remaining ready for a return, for the good of their mental wellbeing they mustn't focus entirely on the game either.
Foster himself must prepare for a test programme which may look very different in a month or even a few weeks. Currently, the All Blacks are scheduled to play Wales twice and Scotland once here in July – three fixtures which must now be in huge doubt - plus a Rugby Championship starting in August which may or may not go ahead and a Northern Hemisphere tour similarly up in the air.
"The mindset is we're going to play something, somewhere, some time… it's tough from a planning perspective but there are some things we can control," Foster said. "We do believe there will be some rugby. We know at some point borders will come down and we'll be able to travel and teams will be able to travel here. What that looks like, we don't know.
"We have to be flexible in our thinking and planning. The timeframes and preparation might be shorter than normal. We know we're going to have to react quickly."
Foster has heard the ideas about possible replacement fixtures for the All Blacks, but stated: "It's not just about wanting the All Blacks to play. If we can get domestic rugby going and then we get the opportunity for the All Blacks to play it does a few things. One, it's a great reward for players in our domestic competitions and secondly it's a chance to shine a little bit of light – New Zealand's society has been through a tough time. We know that and we know the honour and privilege we have.
"In the meantime we have to support our domestic championship. Our franchises and Mitre 10 Cup teams are all going to be stretched for resources – they're financially struggling too. How we can assist with our personnel – can we spread some of our coaches around for a while, to help out some unions that may not have a full quota?
"There are lots of different concepts out there – the old North Island v South Island state of origin type game, and you can go back to the 70s when the All Blacks had an internal tour.
"We want to get the game going and we've already got two competition structures in this country with Super Rugby and the Mitre 10 Cup which do an outstanding job… really the best thing for the All Blacks is for us to get stuck into those competitions. Getting All Blacks back playing in the Mitre 10 Cup I think is going to be powerful.
"There are ideas but we want it to enhance the All Blacks as a team rather than just doing something that takes a bit of the gloss away from the domestic championships that we want to power up, so there's a balancing act there."