MARSEILLE - Jerry Collins has warned his All Blacks teammates about on-field discipline as rugby World Cup officials embark on an apparent crusade against foul play.
A spate of citings and suspensions in recent days has left the New Zealanders wary that nobody has their participation at the tournament curtailed or ended prematurely.
South Africa have lost key flanker Schalk Burger until the semifinals while England are without captain Phil Vickery for two weeks after both were found guilty of indiscretions. United States centre Paul Emerick was slapped with a five-week ban while citings have been made against at least two other players.
Collins implied he'd chuck in the game if it became too "sanitised".
When asked if he thought the crackdown might erode the game's physical nature he said: "I hope not - because then I'd stop playing.
"It's in the back of your mind all the time. It's a long way to come for your tournament to end early," said Collins, who will captain New Zealand against Portugal in Lyon on Saturday.
Advertisement"We're aware of it... they are coming down hard on indiscretions."
All three suspended players committed acts that arguably wouldn't have attracted the same degree of punishment at regular test or first-class level.
It has led to speculation here that the International Rugby Board has ordered a concerted crackdown on foul play at the World Cup.
Collins wouldn't rule it out.
"In their defence, they've got a product that they're trying to put out to the global world and it's probably one of the measures they've taken to keep their TV audience."
The main concern for Collins was the erratic nature of citings.
He said Burger was unfortunate to be singled out in the game against Samoa on Sunday.
"Probably in that game you could have cited 10 people, the amount of late hits," Collins said.
"It's a touch and go thing I suppose, you never know who's going to be sitting up in the box. It's the luck of the draw who gets picked up, who doesn't get picked up."
He said the role of citing commissioner was as subjective as that of the referee.
"It's a lottery really whether you're going to get a referee who's pedantic or a referee who'll enjoy the weather and free-flowing rugby and let it go," he said.
"Sometimes you get cited for things that you wouldn't normally get cited for. I suppose that's life. We're working on playing the odds in our favour.
"Everyone wants to be here for the full quota and be available."
It was suggested to Collins that one way to avoid the wrath of officialdom was to hold onto the ball for the entire game against minnows Portugal.
Collins, who had his fair share of run-ins with the judiciary early in his career, begged to differ.
"Oh, you can get cited with the ball, trust me. It's happened," he laughed.
Collins spoke of his pride at wearing the captain's armband for the second time, having been skipper in the narrow defeat of Argentina last year.
"It caught me off guard a little bit," he said.
"It's probably one of the biggest honours you can be asked to do, when you're playing for your national team.
"I'll just do what I normally do. I'll have a lot of help from the guys who have played a lot of first class matches and test matches."
Collins took some lessons out of the 25-19 win in Buenos Aires 15 months ago.
"I learned that it's important to win," he said.
"Judging by how Argentina's gone in the last 12 months, I don't think I've done a pretty bad job."
The All Blacks underwent a light-hearted training today, their penultimate hitout in Marseille. They were to train again tonight (NZ time) before a two-hour train ride to Lyon.