Reports that some All Blacks don't want to travel to Australia for the Rugby Championship are incorrect, says coach Ian Foster.
Yesterday RNZ reported that a group of players including new fathers Richie Mo'unga and TJ Perenara, as well as expectant father Beauden Barrett, did not want to leave their families for up to 10 weeks.
Foster said the players would not have to be in quarantine for Christmas, as was previously reported.
“Now we know we have a nine-week stint in Australia that involves us coming out of quarantine on the 19th December,” Foster said.
“There was a lot of media saying we were coming out at Christmas and all sorts of stuff, we've been able to get facts out on that.”
Foster said he had not heard from any players that they did not want to travel across the Tasman.
“Are players talking about the issues? Yes they are,” Foster said.
“Now we're slowly getting more information, talking to players one-by-one and looking at their situations,” he said.
“Every player is goig to be slightly different, but I haven't heard from any player at all that they’re not coming, what I have heard from some players is they have got some questions and that's a completely different thing and purely natural.”
The All Blacks coach was "absolutely confident" that he would have at worst, a close to full strength squad to call on in Australia.
"Bear in mind I haven't spoken to 35 players yet, but are we confident we’ll take if not 100 per cent proof, then pretty close."
"You need to know that while people focus on negatives there’s also a massive degree of excitement that we’ll play Test matches. And the negatives aren't insurmountable, just things we have to work through, but very confident we'll take a strong team to Australia."
Foster did sympathise with the fathers in the squad but said it was a reality of professional sport.
“Last year we went to a World Cup for seven weeks, this year we go to Australia and play Rugby Championship for seven weeks, then two weeks quarantining on the end,” Foster said.
“We all know it's not ideal, we all know it's an imperfect world that we live in, but they are the cards we've been dealt with, what we have to do is work with them to do the best we can.”
“For example, we’ve got to do before now and end of October well. We've got make sure our demands on out players, why we're reducing camps and preparation to just about 13 days, the minimum we think.”
“We try not to take them away too long. Instead of a camp after we named the squad we sent them home to families, play Mitre 10 Cup, sleep in their own bed.”
The All Blacks would also explore options around having families in the camp for the two home Bledisloe Tests.
“Can we bring families into Test weeks more, for our two Bleds and use that period,” he said.
“Other concept is we want these two dates on the weekends of 10/11th, 17/18th, so that we've got five or six clear days after it before we go to Australia.
"To send them home, spend family time, and make sure we make good decisions on the shapes of their body before they hop onto a plane and we lose flexibility in selection.”