Coach Graham Henry revealed Sonny Bill Williams' integration into the New Zealand side will be a gradual process after leaving the rugby league convert out of his 22-man squad to face Australia.
Williams' selection in the 30-strong party to tour the northern hemisphere provoked plenty of discussion, but the 25-year-old will not feature in the opening game against the Wallabies at Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday, with the clash against Scotland at Edinburgh on November 13 a more likely date for the giant centre to make his bow.
"We didn't want to fire Sonny Bill in the deep end, we think he needs a bit of time to get accustomed to what we're trying to do out there," said Henry. "He needs to get clarity on what this All Black team is trying to do, just like some of the other new guys, and I think it would've been a big ask to throw him out there in a big Test match like this without having time to get his feet under the table."
He added: "Also, we're delighted with what Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith have done for this All Black team over the past 12 months.
"It takes a little while to get clarity on what the team's trying to do, to understand the team game plan and what we're trying to do out there, and that's natural. It's just going to take time to feel comfortable with that. Time in the group is very important."