All Blacks encouraged to socialise but to drink in moderation.

All Blacks management will allow their players to enjoy a drink during the World Cup but, as coach Steve Hansen says, "not too many pints" as they look to avoid a repeat of the episode which threatened to derail their campaign four years ago.

They don't feel comfortable imposing edicts or orders on players.

There is an element of trust that, as adults, the players understand the nature of their jobs and responsibilities to the team and their World Cup mission.

There's an overwhelming size to this tournament and, with it, a ridiculous amount of interest and scrutiny. The intrusion creates tension.

Advertisement

Everywhere the players turn, everything they do - there is someone watching, ready to judge.

Someone could well go off the rails, feel the need to escape or do something rash and misguided.

That happened in 2011. Cory Jane and Israel Dagg, with a keen sense that they had been imprisoned, decided a few days out from the quarter-final would be the perfect time to guzzle the team-issued sleeping pills they had acquired on their travels.

With a few energy drinks to glug them down, the results were predictably catastrophic.

They ended up on the front page of this newspaper on the morning of the quarter-final, their antics relayed in full glory by a host of eye witnesses.

It created one of those fork-in-the-road moments which could potentially have seen the All Blacks unravel in the aftermath.

Instead, it brought the strength of the All Blacks' culture to the fore and a sobering - literally - session when Dagg and Jane's peers sought an explanation was enough to stitch the squad back together and see them stay on track.

In stark contrast, England imploded at the same tournament when a night out in Queenstown came to dominate the World Cup.

Advertisement

It involved dwarf tossing, royalty, the hint of betrayal and bona fide lying. It was the stuff of tabloid dreams and England were consumed and paralysed by the scandal.

The pressure, scrutiny and endless cycle of training and playing are, if anything, even worse this time around.

What makes it feel even more claustrophobic is that several of the team bases World Rugby have created are self-contained.

The All Blacks are currently at one of those in Teddington, south-west London - their training field right next to the hotel's dining room.

They can wolf down breakfast, walk out the door and train. That's great in one respect, but leaves the players a little isolated and hemmed in another.

They can't train and be in rugby mode all day, every day and typically the All Blacks spend the week of a test in a city where they can escape the hotel and find some kind of normality.

Advertisement

They are allowed to have a drink during the tournament and management are encouraging the players to be visible in the places where they train and play.

"Not too many pints," said Hansen.

"But they can have one if they want one. Again, it is about connecting with the people. We are in London, which is one of the great cities of the world, and it is about getting out and meeting people. It is encouraged because it gives you a feel for what is going on."

Where the approach this time is different to 2011 is that management are more conscious of the possibility of someone going astray.

A quiet pint can turn into a front page story easily enough and the message around expectations is more forcefully made than it has been in the past.

But team manager Darren Shand says it's not suddenly something they are now doing because of the heightened risks of a World Cup.

Advertisement

"I don't think you have to make the point any more because it is a tournament, I think you have to make the point the whole time," he says.

"I don't think that you make it all the time. It is something that you need to be conscious of. We have players of all different levels of experience. It is a bit like getting the players ready to perform.

"Off the field, we are doing the same thing all the time. The thing we have learned is to keep it at the front of your thinking."