New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has called for a four-month offseason to avoid player burnout.
The All Blacks thumped Australia 37-20 in Yokohama on Saturday to complete a 3-0 Bledisloe Cup whitewash, but Hansen warned that players will continue to risk injury unless they get enough rest.
“They don’t get enough of a break,” he said on Sunday.
“You can’t keep going round and round and round without running out of petrol — at some stage you’ve got to recharge the tank.”
New Zealand face 2019 World Cup hosts Japan in Tokyo next weekend before completing their five-match tour against England, Ireland and Italy.
But Hansen insisted he did not have the luxury of talking about their heavyweight clashes with England on November 11 and Ireland a week later with so many of his players running on empty.
“I don’t want to be awkward but we’ve chosen to take it really one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves,” he said.
“But you can rest assured we’ve got a lot of respect for England,” added Hansen.
“They’ve got one or two people injured at the moment but so does everybody, that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why I keep harping on about the need for a global season that looks after the welfare of the players.”
This time last year, New Zealand slipped up in their final Bledisloe Cup game against the Wallabies before being pushed to their physical limits in their tour of the northern hemisphere.
But the All Blacks have flown in 19 second-string players for this weekend’s Test with Japan to give some rest to their big-hitters and allow them to fly to London later this week to acclimatise.
“The one thing I’d really want is that everyone gets 16 weeks break between their last game and their next one,” said Hansen.
“The England boys have suffered a bit from the Lions tour — and it’s not only one season, it kicks on. It’s a worldwide problem and probably the team that’s managing it best at the moment is Ireland.
“They go ‘you can’t play’ because they own the players and franchises completely. They’ve got a good model.”
New Zealand have met Japan three times previously, racking up a combined 282 points, including a World Cup record 145-17 demolition of the Brave Blossoms in 1995 — when current Japan coach Jamie Joseph was part of the All Blacks side.
alh/rox (Additional editing by Sean McMahon)
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