Perhaps it's just me but I would have thought it prudent of Steve Hansen to have left “the long and hard season” chat until after the English had been disposed of at Twickenham this weekend.
He is right though to continue to flag concerns over player welfare.
But that aside - should the unthinkable happen - I would hate to read about how Hansen had waved a pre-match excuse. I'm not suggesting he's doing that, but his timing does leave him vulnerable to that interpretation.
Of course things have changed a bit now Cardiff’s version of Suzy has swept through the team. A team-wide tummy bug is a genuine excuse. Nothing is more debilitating than a crook gut.
But back to my original point. A long and hard season is the reality of professional rugby. It's a level playing field that affects everybody in the game. The All Black management have known the challenges in front of them since early in the year and planned accordingly.
Since the 18-all shocker against the woeful Wallabies in mid-October a full six weeks ago, the most game time any of the All Blacks have had is two matches. That’s hardly a taxing workload physically.
But mentally there's no question these players must be busting a gut to escape the cocoon that is the life of the modern All Blacks.