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Feeling the heat

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Springboks preparing themselves for extreme conditions

South Africa players sweat it out at their open training session at the Shiranami Stadium yesterday. Picture: Steve Haag Sports Hollywoodbets

Suffer now and make next week easier.

That’s the approach the Springboks have taken as they shift into their final phase of preparation for their World Cup-opener against New Zealand in Yokohama on September 21.

During the Mayoral Welcoming press conference in Kagoshima yesterday, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus said they decided to be based in the hot seaside city in Southern Japan this week to purposefully train in “extreme conditions”.

The Boks were also the first team to arrive in Japan ahead of their final World Cup warm-up game against Japan last Friday in an attempt to acclimatise to testing weather conditions.

“The more extreme the circumstances you train under, the better the body gets conditioned, Erasmus said.

“That was part of the plan, to get the body through really tough and extreme times so that when we get to the Test matches, we’re a little bit more used to the conditions.”

In their 41-7 win over the Brave Blossoms, the Boks got a taste of playing Test-match rugby in those conditions and how wet and slippery the ball could get thanks to the humidity.

It’s an experience that should stand them in good stead going into their first and biggest pool-stage challenge next Saturday, and Erasmus also added that the facilities in Kagoshima should also benefit them.

When asked to compare the Japan team that shocked the rugby world with their result against the Springboks at the last World Cup to the current one Bok skipper Siya Kolisi said that they have come a long way since securing that famous victory.

“In 2015 Japan played really well in that game. They were well prepared and they wanted to win badly,” Kolisi said.

Prepared a lot

“Same with the Boks in this game – I think we prepared a lot more for this game and we saw it as a very important game for us going into the World Cup, so we prepared as hard as we could to make sure.

“They’re definitely much better now. You can see it in their results – they won the Pacific Cup and since that day (in Brighton) they’ve improved. We respected them as much as we could by preparing as best we could for this game because we knew how important it was for them and for us.”

Erasmus, meanwhile, wants the Boks to improve relations with their hosts.

“We’re preparing for the New Zealand match, but apart from the on-field stuff we’d also like to experience the city and mingle with the people of Kagoshima because they’ve been really good to us,” he said.

“Kagoshima was the best for us and we’re very happy with what we’re experiencing, from the people to the gym facilities, everything is top notch. So we’re very happy and we think this will give us a good chance of doing well in the World Cup.

When asked what he had on his wish list with the big clash against New Zealand * mind, Erasmus said: “The first thing is we’d like to have a lot of Japanese support at the game.”

“Second, in the last three times we’ve played each other there has only been one or two points in the game, so we know one another really well.

“It’s a very difficult match to predict a winner because the conditions here are very different to South Africa and it’s very different to New Zealand; in New Zealand it rains a lot and in South Africa it’s very dry, here it’s humid and the ball is wet. So who’s going to adapt to the conditions quickest is going to be very important.”