If the Springboks relax this week it will bite us, says fitness coach …

The World in Union

The Springboks have been in Japan for more than two weeks, and hope to feel the benefits of training in the heat and humidity when they take on the All Blacks on Saturday.

FLAT OUT: Duane Vermeulen of South Africa sweats it out in training

TOKYO, 15 Sep – Duane Vermeulen is one of the toughest men in rugby.

Renowned for his physical approach, the South Africa loose forward has seen it all. But even he has suffered in Japan’s hot and humid conditions over the past few weeks, preparing for the Springboks’ first Rugby World Cup 2019 match against New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday.

South Africa’s head of athletic performance, Aled Walters (WAL), said after a gym session in Tokyo on Sunday that the number eight Vermeulen lost 3kg during one training day last week.

It is one of the main reasons South Africa decided to arrive in Japan well before their opening game.

So will Walters be taking it easy on the players during match week?

“No, it’s still going to be hard, as consistent as ever. We want to be here for another seven weeks, so if we relax and make it a comfortable week, it will bite us.

“We are looking long-term here, that’s the only way we can approach it.”

A photo of the South Africa players posing in the gym with their tops off received considerable attention on social media, and Walters said he was “pretty happy” with their fitness levels.

 

He is not concerned by the weight-loss either.

“It’s just what happens in these conditions. So that is what we’ve become used to.

“Our dietician is all over our hydration and nutritional protocols, which are essential. The meals that are supplied were potentially a worry, but the food has been excellent.

“The food, the chefs and hotels are well prepared for what I imagine what the majority of the teams want. It’s exactly like home.

“But also, as we experienced in Kagoshima last week, we had some great Japanese food as well.”

Despite the heat, rain is forecast in Yokohama at the weekend, and Walters believes the Boks are prepared for all conditions.

“We trained during the hottest part of the day as we wanted them to get the benefit.

“So, if it is 20 or 30 degrees at the weekend, we just have to embrace it mentally. The players have been through probably the worst we can expect.”

RNS am/lm/bo


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