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All Blacks rest orders cost Fekitoa, Naholo their Test careers, says Tony Brown

Highlanders' assistant coach Tony Brown hit out at the All Blacks' Super Rugby rest policy, claiming it cost certain fringe players their Test careers.

Malakai Fekitoa of Highlanders makes a break during the New Zealand Lions Series match between the Highlanders and the Lions in Dunedin. Source: Photosport

In the build up to last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan, orders from New Zealand Rugby insisted that the All Blacks' workloads be managed leading into the tournament.

For example, All Blacks were not allowed to play more than 180 minutes from their first three matches, had to sit out at least two regular season games, and couldn't play more than six consecutive games.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning though, Brown says that while those orders were necessary for certain players, they also hurt fringe All Blacks, citing the likes of Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo and Elliot Dixon.

"I think in the past it's actually cost a few players their All Black careers," Brown says.

"If you look at the Highlanders, guys like Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Elliot Dixon, those sort of guys who actually didn't get a lot of time for the All Blacks, those guys getting rested as well which didn't allow them to prepare for Super Rugby.

"And then their Super Rugby form actually cost them their All Blacks spot."

Brown also cited the example of Sevu Reece, who finished as last year's leading Super Rugby try scorer after not falling under All Blacks rest rules, earning a call-up as a result.

"He came over the top of Waisake Naholo last year because of that. I think it's got to be a case-by-case and we've got to have our top players preparing to play Super Rugby."

The All Blacks' rest rules have already affected the new Super Rugby season, Chiefs coach Warren Gatland hitting out at not being able to pick his best side.