Once again boredom will be the All Blacks' greatest enemy at a World Cup.

When they begin their quest for a third successive title in 2019, they will need to beat themselves as much as their competitors if they are to survive a tournament starting with a mid-September arrival and an early November conclusion.

The All Blacks have been drawn in a pool of lopsided talent with an even wackier schedule.

They start against the Springboks on September 21 in Yokohama before they have a 12 day break until they play a repechage team, then an African side and Six Nations strugglers Italy in their final pool match.


It's not the toughest match they've had to start any World Cup, think England 1991, but it's a test which will get their utmost concentration as their start against Argentina did in the 2015 tournament.

Once the 2019 start against the Boks is done, the opposition levels dwindle for the rest of the pool games.

The schedule is an unwelcome reminder of the weak programme the 2007 side had when they played Italy, Portugal, Scotland and Romania before losing their quarterfinal to France.

In that tournament, the side drifted through the opening month, knowing they were certain to qualify with the coaches and players unable to get themselves in the right state for the knockout stage of the tournament. The task in Japan in two years' time will demand decisive mental skills impact from Gilbert Enoka working alongside the coaches and selectors to get the best from the squad which will be faced with unfamiliar cultural and language issues.

After leaving New Zealand in mid-September, the All Blacks will play their quarterfinal on the weekend of October 19-20 where they will need to beat Ireland, Scotland or Japan if they are to advance deeper into the event.

Part of the All Blacks philosophy around the tournament is to make sure their players feel comfortable about the lifestyle in Japan.

Some of the reasons for taking the side to Japan next year for tests against the hosts then the Wallabies is to get them used to life away from their usual rugby destinations.

In the meantime the selectors will be looking at how best to nurture their senior men or whether Jerome Kaino, Owen Franks, Kieran Read, Israel Dagg and Sonny Bill Williams have enough sting left in their game to last through to the end of 2019.