All Blacks feel the heat in Singapore
New Zealand Sevens team say searing conditions will be a big factor this weekend
All Blacks star Gillies Kaka arrived at the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) yesterday prepared.
Part of a group of six New Zealand rugby Sevens players who visited the school to conduct a skills and drills session for 30 local boys, the 25-year-old whipped out a sun hat and a pair of shades before the clinic began.
It was scorching yesterday, with temperatures reaching as high as 35 deg C.
Ahead of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens Series this weekend, All Blacks assistant coach Damian Karauna feels the stifling heat and humidity will be the biggest obstacle for many teams.
"Yes, it's very warm," said the 39-year-old.
"It may suit the island boys (like Fiji and Samoa) a bit more, because they're used to the humidity and these conditions.
"But our boys are conditioned to a high level and they'll have to cope."
Kaka, Baker, Antonio Kiri Kiri, Josh van Lieshout, Isaac Te Aute and Sione Molia put 30 boys from the ACS (I) rugby team through their paces in a clinic organised by New Zealand Rugby sponsors AIG and Air New Zealand.
The Kiwi players admitted the searing heat would take some getting used to, but they were ready to push on.
"If it stays like this... it might take a little bit more out of the players," said Kaka.
"But I guess it'll just be the team that cope with it the best that are going to win."
His teammate Kurt Baker echoed the same sentiments.
"That will be our biggest challenge going into the weekend, the heat," said the 27-year-old.
"It was colder down in Hong Kong (last week in the previous leg of the Sevens Series).
"We won't really know until we're in the stadium, because it could be different conditions, so we'll just wait and see.
"But I suppose the good thing is it's the same for every team, so it's just a case of who adapts to it best."
RAISING THEIR GAME
Baker, who was a part of the All Blacks side that won the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens, said raising their game again just a week after a tough weekend in Hong Kong was another big challenge.
New Zealand reached the Hong Kong Sevens final last Sunday but were beaten by arch-rivals Fiji 21-7.
Said Baker: "It was hard to take because we worked so hard to get to the final.
"We probably ran out of steam in a way.
"We always go out to win, so that was pretty disappointing.
"It's more of the little things which let us down and, hopefully, we can do better this week."
Karauna said the weather conditions in Singapore and Hong Kong made this stop of the Sevens Series one of the toughest, and he felt mental strength would play a big part in who eventually lifts the Cup on Sunday.
"The boys' bodies are tempered to it now, to have those levels to carry them through this," he said.
"But it'll come down to mental fatigue. All the teams are going to battle.
"And every player will need a lot of mental focus this week."