No decision on Sam Whitelock’s 2019 workload, says Crusaders coach

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson will speak to New Zealand Rugby about managing workloads ahead of next year’s World Cup.

But he says no decision has been made about resting captain Sam Whitelock for the start of the Super Rugby season.

Whitelock, 30, led the Crusaders to their ninth title and has played in all 10 of the All Blacks’ matches so far this year.

However, the 106-Test cap lock looked fatigued and was replaced after 52 minutes of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup win over Australia in Yokohama.

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The New Zealand Herald reported last week that Whitelock would miss the first four games of Super Rugby next season to ensure he was not burned out before the World Cup in Japan.

The players’ collective agreement already mandates that All Blacks players are stood down for at least two Super Rugby games each season to keep them fresh for international duty.

Robertson said Whitelock’s situation would be part of a wider conversation with New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.

“What’s best for Sam, like all our All Blacks who have had long seasons? You’ve got to manage them,” Robertson said.

“There’s a lot of conversations to be had post-tour, to see how many minutes they’ve played, how many games they’ve played.

“No doubt myself and Steve will sit down and have a chat to see what’s best for the individual players, there will be a few of them.”

The 2019 Super Rugby season also starts a week earlier and does not have a break in June for Tests because of the World Cup, which makes managing player workloads and rest periods more challenging.

“It’s a bit of a sprint next year,” said Robertson.

“There’s no June break, we’ve got a couple of late byes in our draw, so we’ve got to manage it [player workload] really well.”

All Blacks coach Hansen said after Saturday’s 37-20 win over the Wallabies that World Rugby must look at introducing a mandatory global four-month stand down between seasons.

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“I don’t know how you’d structure it, but the one thing I’d really want is that everyone gets 16 weeks break between their last game and their next one,” he said.

“Currently they don’t get enough of a break. You’ve just got to look at Sam Whitelock.

“You can’t keep going round and round and round and round and round without running out of petrol – at some stage you’ve got to recharge the tank.”

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