All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu will miss the Blues opening rounds in Super Rugby as he aims to preserve his body and manage his workload ahead of the World Cup.
The 35-year-old, who has been dogged by calf injuries in recent years, will miss the Blues opener against the Chiefs as well as matches against the Stormers and Cheetahs on their overseas trip.
With Mealamu taking a cautious approach during the early part of the season, one-Test All Blacks hooker James Parsons is set to wear the Blues’ number two jersey during his absence.
“I’m looking to play the game when the boys get back from Africa,” Mealamu told Fairfax Media.
“It’s a good chance to get a bit of extra conditioning under the belt.
“I feel like I’ve arrived in really good nick but that trip over there in the past couple of years I’ve picked up an injury.”
The 123-Test veteran remains an important part of the All Blacks’ plans despite not being their first-choice hooker in recent seasons.
With Dane Coles’ the preferred number two, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen still views Mealamu as an important part of his squad and will want him to be fit for the World Cup in England later this year.
“For now a lot of the players will have that in the back of their heads,” added Mealamu.
“There’s so much rugby between now and then. With no June [international] series this year Super Rugby is going to be a big grind.
“Arriving in top shape is going to be important to make sure you can play well until the end of the year.”