The All Blacks have jettisoned their controversial player rotation policy and say they will stick with the hardcore of their first XV through the World Cup starting on Friday.
"Clearly, we've got a group of players that are going to play a lot of the games," assistant coach Steve Hansen said on Tuesday, confirming their 2007 World Cup policy of wholesale changes has been buried.
Four years ago the All Blacks were bundled out in the quarterfinals by France amid accusations the players were not hardened for the knockout rounds after the rotation policy meant most had insufficient game time in pool play.
But Hansen, who was also part of the 2007 coaching panel, said that would not happen again under their new World Cup strategy.
"I don't know that you will see the same 15 totally, we just can't do that we don't think, but you might see the same 10 or 12 on a regular basis," he told a media conference.
In the All Blacks two most successful World Cup campaigns, when they won at home in 1987 and were beaten finalists in South Africa in 1995, they played their top combinations as much as possible.
But, Hansen said that may no longer be achieveable because of the inevitable injury toll in the modern game.
"There is going to be an opportunity for some other people. If we have injuries we need people to be fit for example so we've got to make sure some, if not all of the squad get some rugby time. How we do that is going to be interesting," he said.
"We've got some form of idea of what we'd like to do but there's flexibility within that because we don't know what injuries we're going to get, we don't know what circumstances may arise that force us to change that. There's a basic plan but that's flexibile.
Before the tournament even starts the All Blacks are three players down with veteran frontrower Tony Woodcock suffering a hamstring strain to join Adam Thomson (elbow) and Kieran Read (ankle) on the sidelines.
The 76-Test prop Woodcock only returned to rugby in August after being out for three months with foot ligament problems.
Hansen said the latest injury did not appear serious but he could not confirm whether Woodcock would be available for their opening match against Tonga on Friday.
Thomson is expected to be fit again before the All Blacks second match against Japan in Hamilton on September 16 but there is doubt Read will be available before the knockout stages.
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