The All Blacks say they are planning for all contingencies should head coach Steve Hansen been unable to travel to Brisbane for the All Blacks' dead-rubber Beldisloe Cup test against Australia on Saturday.
Hansen's elderly father Des is seriously ill in Christchurch, where the All Blacks are based this week, before they cross the Tasman on Thursday.
Steve Hansen has taken a leave of absence from the team to be by Des' bedside. The pair are close.
Des, a trail-blazing coach at Christchurch club level in the 1980s, was an early coaching mentor to his eldest son. In recent years Steve has played a big part in Des' life as a caregiver after his father's health faltered.
Hansen's assistant coach Ian Foster fronted media in Christchurch early this afternoon and said the situation was "serious" and "we are all feeling for him".
He did not know if Hansen would make the team's flight across the Tasman.
"He is still heavily involved with the planning but he is spending a lot of time with his family. That's the key thing for him right now. We just carry on as normal and we are trucking along without him."
The team trains at Linwood's club ground tomorrow, have Wednesday off, train again on Thursday morning before they leave Christchurch for Australia.
Senior All Black Conrad Smith added the team's thoughts were with their boss and the team's senior players had rallied in his absence to fill the void.
Meanwhile, All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith said the desire in the All Blacks camp to make sure they rounded out the Rugby Championship in style against Australia this week was understandably strong.
Unbeaten this year the All Blacks were keen to continue that record, he said, and they were wary of an Aussie backlash.
"Australia are the sort of team you can never really take lightly, and the way things are for them at the moment probably makes them even more dangerous.
"But I think the feel in the camp is we really want to close the Rugby Championship out in style.
"We have done all the hard work to remain unbeaten so it would be a shame to lose that at the final hurdle.
"There is a real desire there to help Kev [Keven Mealamu] celebrate his 100th match in style though so that is going to be a real driving point for us this week."
On promotional duty at the New Zealand's Biggest Boot competition at Christchurch Airport, Smith said such occasions were the times that made him reflect just how far he has come.
"If you had said to me a year ago that things would have panned out the way they have I would have never believed you," Smith said.
"Days like this where you are out doing things with the public, it's awesome.
"Sometimes I still feel like I am just another guy in the crowd, but I'm slowly getting used to it all."
- © Fairfax NZ News