Injured Crusaders Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty have been ruled out of the All Blacks' "foundation" day for South Island-based players in Christchurch today.
Those Crusaders and Highlanders in the All Blacks' frame have gathered at the Christchurch Rugby Club (before the teams meet on the field in Dunedin on Saturday) in order to review the national team's performances last year and to seek ways of improving before the visit of France for three tests in June.
But Whitelock and Crotty, the Crusaders' captain and vice-captain respectively, have been given the day off on doctors' orders after suffering concussion injuries early in the Hurricanes 29-19 victory over the Crusaders in Wellington at the weekend.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has always taken a philosophical approach to players getting injured, and he struck a similar tone in front of the media today, but it is almost certain to become more of an issue later in the year.
Hansen will have to name his squad of 32 for the visit of France in mid-May in time for two three-day training camps from May 20-22 in Auckland and May 27-29 in Christchurch. The first of these camps will disadvantage the Chiefs in particular, as they will be without their All Blacks for their match against the Sharks in Durban.
The problem with having to name a squad relatively early – the first test against France is on June 9 at Eden Park – is that he could lose more players to the rigours of Super Rugby which has already taken a big toll on the New Zealand franchises.
"It gives you a high risk of naming someone that will be injured in one of the derbies over the next few weeks," Hansen said. "There's always a downside, but the downside of that is New Zealand Rugby have to pay for that player and then pay for another one. That's the price they're paying.
"Everyone's having to make adjustments."
Hansen had said earlier: "I'm concerned all the time about injuries but that's part of our game. We used 21 replacements last year ourselves. That was a record number. It's a physical game we're playing and when you start playing derbies right from the get-go there's no more physical game than that.
"The Crusaders suffered a wee bit over the weekend and hopefully those guys will come right pretty quickly."
Of Whitelock and Crotty, he said: "They saw their doctor this morning and he wasn't happy with how they were so they've got the day off."
The All Black camps have been a contentious topic recently despite them being signed off by the Kiwi franchises at the start of the year. There will be a "foundation" day for North Island-based players in Auckland next Tuesday, and one more in Christchurch and Wellington next month.
But given the lack of preparation time for the visit of France, who highlighted their danger when beating England in Paris yesterday, everyone has had to compromise and this is the result. "Everyone is giving a bit and taking a bit," Hansen said.
France's performance in finishing over the top of England for a 22-16 Six Nations victory came as no surprise to Hansen.
"France are a side that as we well know that can turn up or turn off and if they turn up they're extremely difficult to play," he said. "They're big, athletic and skillful and they've got a number of people out so they're only going to get better.
"I did mention the other day that we've got a tough game [on the November tour] against England and another one against Ireland. I think last year we saw in Scotland – they made big improvements, they beat Australia I think twice – they played really well against us [last year in Edinburgh] and have come out and beaten England. Northern Hemisphere rugby at the moment is humming along really nicely. It's going to be a good challenge."
Highlanders and All Blacks first-five Lima Sopoaga, who is off to England at the end of the season, has not assembled in Christchurch.