All Blacks will get faster and stronger yet
November 27, 2013
The All Blacks have been rewarded richly in 2013 for the ability to play 80 minutes and more per game © Getty Images
The All Blacks believe the fitness levels that proved so decisive in Europe this month will climb to another level for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Strength and conditioning coach Nick Gill was one of the key figures in New Zealand's unbeaten 14-Test season, overseeing a team who inevitably finished stronger than their opponents. That was the case in the 38-27 defeat of South Africa in Johannesburg before their season-ending struggles against England and Ireland. In those latter two Tests, the All Blacks side at the end of another long campaign had more gas in the tank than teams not yet at the midpoint of their season.
"Seeing the boys finish over the top was really rewarding for all of us involved, it's satisfying that we can still do that," Gill said. "We had a pretty good bench involved as well."
Gill's planning for Rugby World Cup 2015 is already well under way, saying he is excited about the rare chance to work purely on fitness in the middle of the 2015 season. Reduced commitments in June 2015 and a shortened Rugby Championship means Gill can work with the World Cup squad for about a month in the lead-up to the tournament that kicks off in mid-September.
"I just can't wait for us to have a chance to actually work together in a pre-season and hit the ground running rather than just coming out of a competition," Gill said. "We're going to be able to name a team, train together, get prepared and then come to London. So we've already got our thinking caps on about how we do that best."
Gill said the lead-up to recent World Cup tournaments had been marked by the variety of methods used by teams to peak physically for the four-yearly tournament.
The All Blacks' scheme in 2007 to pull key players out of Super Rugby was widely deemed a failure, and Gill, who joined the All Blacks a year later, has fine-tuned his methods. Much of his time is spent monitoring individual player progress and balancing nutrition with training programs, travel and the need to rest.