Injuries to key All Blacks would seemingly be cause for a coach to suffer anxiety, but Steve Hansen is apparently immune, perhaps out of a philosophical sense that things such as rugby player health are beyond his control, or more likely, the knowledge that it is not hard to find competent substitutes in a land where the game is part of the national psyche.
He will be missing Dane Coles, no doubt, as the looming season features 14 Tests, a bit tougher than some.
A Test coach has the responsibility to juggling players’ workloads and no one disputes that rugby players are kept busy with play at various levels, so it is inevitable that injuries will also require some juggling.
The demands of the professional season dictate that with relatively few exceptions, players will have to be spelled, lest their performance drop off to sub-standard levels.
Ben Smith has an ankle that will prevent him from traveling for the South Africa Test, but the silver lining is that he will have additional time to get his head straight after missing several weeks with concussion symptoms.
If the game itself were not enough of a challenge to players’ bodies, the mental aspect of hopping time zones with constant travel to other continents is something that no amount of training can truly accommodate.