Test observers are struggling to remember the last time the All Blacks played in the uncomfortable conditions promised for Wednesday’s Test against Samoa.
Temperatures are forecast to top 30C for the mid-afternoon Test at Apia Park, which will come as no surprise to anyone given the dripping heat of the last week.
Even more concerning is that showers are forecast for the morning, which will only add to the draining humidity.
“Beautiful, I love it,” a smiling All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg said, in a sentiment that may not be shared by his teammates in the forwards.
“I hear 3 o’clock’s hissing so I’m looking forward to it.”
Members of All Blacks management reckoned some of the Tests on the South African high veldt may have gone close to 30C in recent years but with nothing like the mugginess of Apia.
The players will pay extra attention to hydration before, during and after the Test. Considerable loss of weight is possible if they don’t prepare well, a scenario to be avoided nine days before a Test against Argentina in Christchurch.
It’s not just the All Blacks who are wary of the furnace that awaits.
Most of the Samoan team are coming off cold European club seasons, including lock Kane Thompson.
He believes their earlier preparation could hold them in good stead against the visitors, who will play less about 40 hours after flying out of wintry New Zealand.
“It’s always tough for me coming back here and playing but we’ve acclimatised now,” he said.
“I’ve been here for two weeks so we’re hoping it’s going to give us a little bit of an edge, although we know their fitness levels in New Zealand are exceptionally high.”