Rugby: Heat the biggest challenge for Sunwolves before National Stadium debut

It may be a home game for them, but Japanese outfit the Sunwolves are literally feeling the heat as they prepare to face the South African Cheetahs in the third round of Super Rugby at the Singapore National Stadium on Saturday.

The new expansion franchise will play the first of three home games in the Republic's hot and humid weather, with today's temperature reaching 35 deg C, a far cry from the winter in Tokyo, where the team are co-based.

In a pre-match press conference in Friday, Sunwolves captain Shota Horie said through a translator: "It's very hot weather here, and we came from a very cold winter, so we're struggling a little bit here."

To overcome the difference in weather, the 30-year-old hooker added: "On the flight (to Singapore) we were moving around every two hours, we were hydrating well first thing in the morning.

"To get used to this weather we'd like to spend this afternoon just walking around. Not too much but just to get used to it."

While the Sunwolves attempt to acclimatise to the weather, the Cheetahs have to deal with the difference in time zones as Singapore is six hours ahead of Bloemfontein, where they are based.

Cheetahs captain Francois Venter said: "We got here (on Thursday) morning, we didn't sleep at all...we'll try to adjust as soon as possible to the six-hour difference, we're feeling great."

Yet with both teams gunning for their first win of the season, Sunwolves coach Mark Hammettbrushed aside any concerns about failing to adapt.

He said: "We're aware of these challenges, whether you play in hot or cold weather... you always try to play to that level of exhaustion anyway, it doesn't matter what the conditions are. I know the Cheetahs will be no different."

DETAILS

Where: National Stadium

When: Tomorrow (v Cheetahs), March 26 (v Bulls) and May 14 (v Stormers)

Tickets: Single game from $35 (adult), three-game pass from $89.25. Youth, child and family packages available. Tickets available for sale at Sports Hub Tix.

clntan@sph.com.sg