In 2016, the All Blacks were dead on their feet by the time they played their final test in Paris. They were lucky to win – as they had been the week before in Dublin.
They had so little left in the tank because so many of the team had given so much. If Beauden Barrett hadn’t pulled off a magical intercept on his goalline at Stade Francais and gone the length of the field to score, the All Blacks may have lost.
So it was with that in mind that the All Blacks’ coaching team decided they had to pre-empt the inevitable fatigue and try to avoid it. The plan they hatched was to not take all their big guns to Argentina for the Rugby Championship and instead, Sam Cane, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Liam Squire and Ryan Crotty flew straight to South Africa.
It was a good plan – the All Blacks won in Argentina and then again in South Africa a week later, and they had given a handful of key men some space to have energy come the final weeks of the European tour.