You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Highlanders players stay home for AB camp

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/08/2016 Angelo Risso

Aaron Smith reacts during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales. © Getty Images Aaron Smith reacts during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales. All Blacks boss Steve Hansen says providing the Highlanders players in his squad with additional rest time is all about risk and reward.

Key players including halfback Aaron Smith and fullback Ben Smith have been offered extra time at home in Dunedin after their Super Rugby semi-final exit to the Lions.

The Highlanders players, alongside concussed Chiefs skipper Sam Cane, have not taken part in the All Blacks' two-day camp in Auckland.

Hansen said the Highlanders representatives, who have undertaken a gruelling travel schedule in the past four weeks, were better off recouping at home.

"It's about risk and reward," Hansen told reporters on Thursday.

"The reward is giving the Highlanders boys a bit of freshening up time.

"The risk is that we're a little bit behind the eight-ball."

The All Blacks have been called into the camp as preparations gather pace for their tilt at the Rugby Championship, starting against Australia on August 20.

Hansen used the time spent together for skills training, video analysis and sizing up fresh All Blacks recruits like Blues pair Ofa Tu'ungafasi and George Moala.

"In Test weeks you don't get the opportunity to break things down and work out the real mechanics of what we're after, and to do some quality coaching," Hansen said.

"It's been really beneficial."

Winger Israel Dagg said the atmosphere in camp was a positive one.

He expected Rugby Championship opponents to raise their game for the All Blacks, who go into the four-team tournament as clear favourites.

"We've just been working on our skills, our combinations, and we've got a big gym session later," the 28-year-old Crusader said.

"When teams play the All Blacks they always give it their best and go hard."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon