Joe Schmidt has joined the All Blacks coaching ticket in a bid to minimise the level of disruption caused by a Covid outbreak within the squad.
Already without head coach Ian Foster, forwards coach John Plumtree, as well as centres David Havili and Jack Goodhue, defence specialist Scott McLeod has become the latest member of the backroom team to be struck down with Covid.
With rising case numbers in the wider squad, the All Blacks preparations for Saturday's first Test against Ireland have been thrown into disarray, as they sweat over the possibility of the virus having spread further.
Schmidt was due to join the All Blacks setup as an 'independent selector' following the summer tour, however, he has now been drafted in for a much more hands on role this week.
Schmidt will be able to provide deep insight into Ireland, following his successful nine years in the country.
The 56-year-old had stated that he intended to retire from coaching following the disappointing 2019 World Cup campaign, but his head was turned upon returning home to New Zealand.
Schmidt recently helped guide the Blues into the Super Rugby final, while he has long been tipped as a future All Blacks head coach.
Foster comes into the Test Series under major pressure, and with Schmidt now set to take the reins this week, it will place the current All Blacks boss under even more scrutiny, particularly if the home side were to beat Ireland at Eden Park this weekend.
Schmidt's presence in the All Blacks coaching team adds another layer of intrigue to the coming three weeks, as Andy Farrell now looks to try to get the better of his former boss.
Former Ireland and Leinster scrum coach Greg Feek is also part of the All Blacks setup, as forwards coach Brad Mooar confirmed Schmidt's arrival.
"We've got Joe Schmidt coming in tomorrow and Thursday to help out," Mooar said.
"We need hands on the ground, and that's a wonderful resource. Who better to have than Joe to come in and cast an eye over a bit of detail, and put his shoulder to the wheel there for us.
"As I say, this has been planned for. It's not an unforeseen event, so working out who's available and who might be able to help in different situations has been discussed, and then you put it together when you need to."
“Joe will come in for Tuesday and Thursday’s trainings this week, and we’re really grateful to have his help," Foster said.
“We’ve planned for this kind of disruption and we’ve got back up plans and people on standby. Joe was one of those people we could call on.
“I’ve got every confidence in our coaching group, and in our senior leaders who are all stepping up in what’s a massive test for us.
“Everyone has had to deal with these kinds of disruptions over the past couple of years. This is a real opportunity for the coaching group and team to pull together.”