Heat will suit fiery All Blacks: Weber

Japanese children perform the famous Haka during a welcome ceremony for the All Blacks upon the team's arrival at a hotel in Kashiwa, east of Tokyo, on Monday.
Japanese children perform the famous Haka during a welcome ceremony for the All Blacks upon the team's arrival at a hotel in Kashiwa, east of Tokyo, on Monday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Scrum-half says NZ's high intensity will wear down opponents quicker in tough conditions

TOKYO • New Zealand scrum-half Brad Weber believes the All Blacks' high-tempo game will perfectly suit the hot and humid Japanese conditions as they seek to run opponents ragged in pursuit of a third straight World Cup.

He told reporters yesterday that the focus of the team's first training session in Japan was on getting used to the "pretty hot" conditions in Tokyo, with temperatures hitting 35 deg C.

But he insisted the All Blacks would relish the heat, and the contrast back home, where they are just entering spring.

Joking that the weather was "just like summer in New Zealand" before admitting "the humidity's a bit different", he said: "New Zealanders in general, we like to play a fast game, up tempo.

"I see these conditions suiting us perfectly.

"We're all pretty keen to get among these conditions, because it's relatively cold and wet back home and we'll get some conditions we enjoy playing in."

Lock Sam Whitelock, though, urged caution over the unfamiliar conditions, claiming that both Northern and Southern Hemisphere teams would have to adapt their styles to prosper over the seven-week tournament, which starts on Sept 20.

"Because it's going to be warm, everyone's going to want to play expansive rugby but it's about making sure you can control the tempo," he said. "You've got to have the ability to play a couple of different styles."

He also revealed some of his teammates had taken to wrapping themselves in cold towels in training to get their body temperature down but stressed that two weeks was enough to acclimatise.

The All Blacks will open their title defence against South Africa in Yokohama on Sept 21 in what Whitelock said was "a massive match that will set the tone for our whole campaign".

READY TO BE ON FIRE

I see these conditions suiting us perfectly. We're all pretty keen to get among these conditions, because it's relatively cold and wet back home and we'll get some conditions we enjoy playing in.

BRAD WEBER, All Blacks scrum-half, on the hot and humid conditions in Japan.

The Springboks have already been in Japan for more than a week and ran out 41-7 winners against the Japanese Brave Blossoms in their final warmup game before the blockbuster Pool B match.

Calling the Springboks "a very good side", Whitelock added: "I'm sure they will have been holding something back and I'm sure they'll keep something up their sleeve for us."

The world champions' training camp is in Kashiwa, east of Tokyo, and the city has embraced its famous guests with posters of the team all over town, while autograph-and selfie-hunters in replica black jerseys have been seen camping outside their hotel.

"We've had an awesome reception... it's pretty cool to see how hyped up the city is to have us here," said Whitelock.

The team were welcomed on Monday by dozens of children performing the All Blacks' traditional Haka battle cry, albeit a less scary version than that seen on the field.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'Heat will suit fiery All Blacks: Weber'. Print Edition | Subscribe