The first half of the All Blacks international season was about establishing combinations, gameplans and leadership styles.

That done, the second half will be about tinkering with selection to partly ward off the inevitable impact of fatigue and to also build the confidence and experience of the wider squad.

History has shown the coaching group that it is about this time of year that some players, especially those who have had a heavy Super Rugby workload, can become leg-weary.

Being judicious with some players' game time in the next three weeks can have huge benefits in the last tests of the season. It comes with the added bonus of allowing a few fringe members to get used to the pace and intensity of test rugby.


The squad for the next two tests in Argentina and South Africa will be revealed today but already confirmed as not travelling are Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden.

The former's hamstring is a few weeks away from healing and Cruden is being given an extended window to free himself from a niggle in his groin.

A decision on whether Jerome Kaino travels will also have to be made. The bruising blindside is not thought to have done any lasting damage to his shoulder but it will have to be assessed in a few days.

On the positive side, George Moala and Waisake Naholo are likely to be available and a contact session this week will determine whether Damian McKenzie has fully recovered from a concussion he suffered playing for Waikato.

"I think we have learned is how tough it [travel] is. If you just go and ignore it then, by the end of November, we are in trouble,"says All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster.

"We have learned that fact so it is a matter of trying to make some smart decisions now based on previous workload and also how guys are training and whether they look like they are ready to go in there."

"We have a squad of 32 that is training really well at the moment, too, so it's not so much a matter of us feeling that we have got to give others a game, it is a matter that other people are putting their hand up and really want to play.

"We consider all those variables and it would be reasonably obvious that we are going into a big travel phase and now is the time we need the whole group stepping up and performing."

Changes are not likely to be sweeping but it might be that the likes of Luke Romano and Patrick Tuipolotu each start one of the next two tests to give Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick less of a workload.

Regardless of how he recovers, it may be deemed time for Kaino to stand aside to allow Liam Squire and or Elliot Dixon an opportunity in the No6 jersey. Kaino has been at his best, but given his age, the selectors need to think about developing an alternate option at blindside.

Lima Sopoaga may be in line for a start in Buenos Aires so the coaches feel they are building genuine depth at No10