No risk in Bok travel plan

SA Rugby logo (Supplied)
SA Rugby logo (Supplied)

Johannesburg - Team doctor Konrad von Hagen doesn’t believe there is any risk implicit in the Springbok decision to leave for their return clash with the Pumas in Argentina so late in the build-up week.

On Monday the Bok management adjusted the initial schedule, which had the national team staying in Port Elizabeth until Tuesday night before transferring to Johannesburg ahead of the long flight on Wednesday to Salta, where the Boks will face Argentina on Saturday. Instead of staying in Port Elizabeth, the Boks flew to Johannesburg on Monday night to avoid predicted bad weather, with the aim being that they could get in a full day of training .

As it turned out, it was the right decision, for although the weather in the Eastern Cape coastal city was fine on Monday and the Boks got in the training they wanted from the first day of the week, on Tuesday it dawned cold, windy and bleak. It should be better in Johannesburg, and perhaps now that they are there, the Boks will feel pleased that they are one step nearer their destination.

But with the team flying from Johannesburg via the Brazilian city of Sau Paulo and only due to arrive in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires late on Wednesday night before travelling to Salta on an internal flight the next day, there are effectively two days of travel awaiting the Boks in the four days before kick-off.

Dr Von Hagen agreed it was going to be an arduous journey, but he pointed out that as the flight was going back in time, rather than away from it as is the case when the side flies to Australasia, the players would be fresh and ready for action when they arrive.

“It is a long flight and we are effectively travelling for two days but it is not so bad as we leave in the morning and get there late at night. It is a daylight flight most of the way,” said Von Hagen.

“The players will get a chance to get little sleeps in during the flight but they will be awake for most of the way and tired when they get there late at night. So they won’t have any trouble falling asleep. They can then wake up at a normal time the next morning Argentine time and feel they have had a proper sleep.

“Because we are flying in the day we won’t need to take any sleeping pills or do any of the usual things we do to avoid jetlag. Flying in that direction is much easier.”

Von Hagen, who also works for the Southern Kings, added that the Boks were doing what some of the Super Rugby teams do when they face the Jaguares in Buenos Aires during Super Rugby.

“At the Kings we also travelled late in the week and only had one full day, Friday, before the game, but we felt great,” he said.

The Kings scored a famous victory over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires in their last season of Super Rugby earlier this year, and significantly they won it late, meaning there was little evidence of any travel fatigue. And it was a similar story for the Sharks when they won there a couple of months ago.

“Going there is great. We are travelling back in time. It is when we get back that we will feel the jetlag, but fortunately we won’t have any games to play that week so it won’t matter.”

Although the Lions tend to send under-strength teams to Argentina, their star flanker Jaco Kriel has been there, and he concurred with the doctor that the flight there had minimal effect.

“When we go there we do feel quite fresh. There are no problems,” said Kriel.

The Boks are leaving their departure late, and not travelling at the start of the week like the Pumas did, so they can maximise their training ahead of a return clash they regard as crucially important in their development. Monday and Tuesday are normally the hard training days of the week and they are travelling on what would normally be their off day.

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