All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says his decision to omit flank Jerome Kaino from his matchday squad for the Rugby Championship opener against Australia is in the interests of longevity and to prolong his career.
Kaino, who is a veteran of 81 Test matches, was a surprise omission from Hansen's squad with Liam Squire being preferred in his place at blindside flank.
And Hansen insists that it is not the end of the road for Kaino and that he still has a major role to play in the side but feels he needs to be managed carefully ahead of a long and gruelling season.
"It's a long race, it's not a short race," Hansen told TVNZ.
"Clearly JK's not getting any younger.
"We've got to look after him for a long season too.
"At the back end of this year, in the last nine weeks, we go around the world twice, play seven test matches and 10-time zone changes.
"You need most of your squad or as many as you can get, still feeling somewhat fresh, so we've got to manage them as well as we can."