Rugby Union

ACT Brumbies beat the heat for Super Rugby season opener against Hurricanes

ACT Brumbies players have been sitting in saunas after draining training sessions in high heat to ensure their pre-season regiment sets them up for the start of the Super Rugby campaign.

As Canberra sweltered through a hot week, Brumbies players were ordered into the sauna at the club headquarters for some extra heat exposure before playing the Wellington Hurricanes on Friday night.

The Brumbies are preparing for a hot start to the Super Rugby season.
The Brumbies are preparing for a hot start to the Super Rugby season. Photo: Graham Tidy

It sounds like an unusual tactic for a winter sport. But athletic performance director Ben Serpell said the move was designed to help players better adapt to hot conditions at the start of the season.

The Brumbies trained in 35-degree heat on Thursday and the temperature is expected to still be at 25 degrees for kick-off against the Hurricanes.

The temperature almost hit 38 degrees, a a stark contrast to the single-digit chill at Canberra Stadium in the wintry middle of the season.

But the sauna sessions during the entire pre-season allow Brumbies players to feel more comfortable if they're hit with extreme conditions.

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Some research suggests it takes about 12 days to get meaningful adaptation to heat training and the Brumbies have adopted the approach for the majority of the pre-season.

"We've been trying to do a lot more heat recovery-based stuff this year to acclimatise. It's not like this is the first week, we've used the sauna a fair bit," Serpell said.

"Sitting in a hot room it's passive recovery but because it's so hot the blood is still pumping around the body ... they get physiological benefits and learn to tolerate heat a lot better.

"It's similar to adapting to any sort of extreme climate, it takes a little while to adapt to it. Becoming acclimatised to heat, you tend to increase your blood plasma volume and your blood vessels open up a bit."

The Brumbies start their season with two games at Canberra Stadium - first against the Hurricanes and then backing up next week against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs.

Coach Stephen Larkham has named 11 internationals in his starting XV for the first-round clash against the Hurricanes, with Tomas Cubelli and Aidan Toua making their debut for the club.

Larkham has also turned to two young props in the squad to get the season off to a strong start, with Allan Alaalatoa getting his crack in the No. 1 jersey and Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin to get his first cap from the bench.

"There's really right competition in the front row and particularly at loosehead," Larkham said.

"There's Allan and Scotty Sio, and at the moment Allan is holding out the Wallabies incumbent so he's definitely got potential to play for the Wallabies in the future.

"I was hoping to get Les out on the field last year, but he picked up some injuries. His scrummaging is superb and his impact off the bench is exactly what we need. I think people will be pleasantly surprised with how he plays."

SUPER RUGBY ROUND ONE

Friday: ACT Brumbies v Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

BRUMBIES TEAM: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Toomua, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. David Pocock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Rory Arnold, 4. Sam Carter, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Allan Alaalatoa. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Leslie Leuluailii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. Michael Dowsett, 22. Andrew Smith, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.

* For more details on the Brumbies' campaign to raise money for Fiji, visit brumbies.com.au