Steve Hansen must decide this week whether to reward his incumbents again, or box smart and throw fresh legs at the finish line.
The All Blacks are not exactly staggering home, but injury concerns, Andrew Hore's overnight citing, and the ferocity of the win over Wales will be factored in when the team to play England is named on Thursday night.
On arrival in London last night, Hansen's men were whisked away to a swimming pool and will have a light week on the training paddock as their bodies are monitored.
"We'll just have to see," Hansen said when quizzed on the possibility of selection changes based on fatigue. "It's been a long year. You only have to look at all the other teams in the southern hemisphere to see they are struggling with that fatigue, and yesterday [Sunday] we got a wee sign of it as well [against Wales].
"Our last 20 minutes we started to struggle. The toll of the year has probably kicked in a little bit . . . we just have to be really smart how we train this week."
One change seems certain with Hore facing a yet-to-be-announced date with the IRB judiciary for his reckless swinging arm at Millennium Stadium.
But blindside Victor Vito, halfback Piri Weepu, wing Hosea Gear and lock Brodie Retallick could all potentially add some zip around the core of tiring senior incumbents.
Hansen would not be drawn on which individuals were feeling the pinch, saying "95 per cent" of the team were sore.
But he did confirm there was a danger of cumulative fatigue for those who had been used regularly through the elongated Rugby Championship.
"I think it's just general fatigue.
"If you play enough rugby and you travel around as much as we have, it takes it out of you," Hansen said.
Weepu said there would be no let-up for the 14th and final test of the All Blacks' season thanks to the opposition.
"Definitely," he said when asked if England were the European side New Zealand players most wanted to beat. "It's like the New Zealand-Aussie rivalry."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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