Deb Robinson is the person New Zealanders have come to dread seeing at an All Blacks news conference during the World Cup as the team doctor has brought nothing but bad tidings.
There was the day in Hamilton when four players, including stars Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter, were struck by minor injuries just before the pool game against Japan, and were withdrawn as a precaution.
Then the morning of the pool match against Canada, when she was there to explain why Carter was out of the tournament with a serious groin tear. And she was back before the microphones this week to talk about Mils Muliaina, whose broken shoulder brought a premature end to his 100-test career, and the groin injury which has knocked out Carter's successor Colin Slade.
Aches and pains are her calling. She's been with Super Rugby franchise the Canterbury Crusaders for a decade, and worked with New Zealand's Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams. She's been with the All Blacks for five years, but even she's been amazed and frustrated by the spate of injuries in the team lately.
The All Blacks are certainly not alone. Australia, France, England, Ireland, Italy, and Romania all had to call home for replacements. Argentina and Ireland had to call in two, and Japan lost a tournament-leading five members of their original squad.
But it's the Tri-Nations sides, the favourites for the title, who took a particularly heavy toll.
South Africa lost two members of their 2007 champion team, Bakkies Botha and Frans Steyn, while Australia had to say goodbye to two at their second World Cup, Drew Mitchell and Wycliff Palu.
The Wallabies, at one point so depleted that 35-year-old loose forward Radike Samo started on the wing, were lucky. Digby Ioane and Pat McCabe had time in the tournament to return from dislocations to a thumb and shoulder respectively, and played in the quarterfinal win over the Springboks last Sunday.
Whereas the northern teams played summer friendlies in the build-up to the Cup, the southern hemisphere's best played out an extended Super Rugby provincial tournament followed by the annual Tri-Nations.
Robinson accepted that some injuries were bad luck and the result of playing a tough contact sport.
"I don't think we can generalise at all," she said. "Some of them are because we've got players who've played a lot of rugby through a Super Rugby season and there wasn't a lot of opportunity to rehabilitate anything. A week off between Super Rugby and the Tri-Nations and a week off between the Tri-Nations and the World Cup."
No team expected to get through four pool games without someone breaking down, and none did. And not all the injuries could be blamed on a congested schedule. Of all the teams mentioned above, only Romania and Japan had five days or fewer between games.
Despite an improvement on scheduling from past World Cups, there was an outcry from coaches and players over the lack of ideal rest times for the second-tier teams.
This week the top teams, whose broadcasting rights money gives them preferential rest times, agreed to propose playing more midweek games in the 2015 World Cup in England. It was hardly a concession, as the greater depth enjoyed by top sides gives them the ability to endure shorter rest periods.
Scotland doctor James Robson said that while he saw no existing link between short turnarounds and injuries, he believed a lack of recovery time did increase the risk of players getting hurt.
"I think from a player welfare point of view, while absolutely cognisant of the commercial needs of world rugby, we do have to see if there's some other format for the future where we can have people playing with adequate turnaround time, and therefore performing at their best," Robson said.
From watching test rugby for 20 years, Robson said it took at least four days after a big match for players to be able to train "adequately and fully."
"And that's train adequately and fully, not play another game, so I believe it takes at least four days to recover from the rigours of an international Test match," Robson said. "I don't think it's dangerous but I think it results in below-par performance."
Robinson was in no doubt that 10 tests in 12 weeks had contributed to the All Blacks' wear and tear, and All Blacks coach Graham Henry said the schedule involved careful team management.
"You just can't train as you'd normally train. You've just got to make sure guys have got a full tank on Sunday, and have got good clarity," Henry said. "They've played a lot of football, but I think they're in good shape, up here," he added, pointing to his head.
His assistant Steve Hansen, another former Wales coach, said players were having to endure not just an unrealistic workload from this season, but an accumulation of previous seasons, with less of an offseason to relax in the professional era.
Hansen reiterated his wish again for the IRB to organise a global season to line up the major tournaments together.
"People have got to be prepared to say our players are worth looking after, this is what we need to do to take the next step in the game."
He said the workload was just as taxing on players in the northern hemisphere, except for one fact.
"They don't have to travel very far, and that does make a difference as we saw with the Crusaders, the toll that travel takes on players." The Crusaders lost their homeground in the deadly Christchurch earthquakes earlier in the year and had to play their scheduled home games elsewhere - including one at Twickenham, England.
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