Rugby Union

THE BREAKDOWN

Springboks glasses to help jet lag before Rugby Championship clash with Wallabies

Talk about the one per centers. The Springboks are trialling top-secret technology to give themselves an edge in the Rugby Championship. 

Every player has been kitted out with two sets of hi-tech glasses designed to beat jet lag and help their bodies adjust to the time zone in Perth this week.

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The Springboks were reluctant to talk about the gadgets when they were raised – in Afrikaans – at a press conference this week, even asking South African journalists to hold off writing about the innovation until after the side's two-week tour of Australia and New Zealand. 

But The Breakdown did some digging and it appears the glasses' creator approached team doctor Craig Roberts with the proposal. Roberts and team management agreed to a trial and will assess their usefulness, or otherwise, back in South Africa. 

In the frame: The Springboks train in Perth this week for their match against Australia on Saturday night.
In the frame: The Springboks train in Perth this week for their match against Australia on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

One pair has red lenses, which are supposed to trigger the production of melatonin, a hormone that chemically causes drowsiness and lowers the body temperature. The players – and some members of management – have been wearing them before bed.

The other pair emit a blue and white light and are designed to be worn in the morning to help wake the body. 

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But teams have tried many gadgets over the years, with varying degrees of the wild and wacky. 

The Wallabies under Eddie Jones tried wearing sunglasses indoors and outside before they flew to Durban for the 2004 Tri-Nations final. It may have helped the fatigue, but Australia still lost that one 23-19.

Game face: Francois Hougaard.
Game face: Francois Hougaard. Photo: Getty Images

Nasal dilators were all the rage many years ago, and the Wallabies under Robbie Deans began encouraging players to nap during the day as part of regular preparations – nothing to do with jet lag. 

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie told The Breakdown he once tried flying to South Africa quite late in the week with the Waratahs. They lost that match against the Bulls in Pretoria, but not by much. 

McKenzie confirmed there were no major innovations in the works for the Wallabies' two-week trip to South Africa and Argentina later this month. 

Depending on how the glasses go down in Camp Springbok, though, they could be the next big thing.

BABY BOOM

The Wallabies are on tenterhooks awaiting the arrival of hooker Saia Fainga'a's first child with fiancee Alicia Antico.

Fainga'a is ready to nip back to Brisbane to be there for the birth, but time is running out for him to make it and fly back to Perth in time to take his spot on the bench.

With Australia's hooking stocks at an all-time low, former Waratah and now Brumby Josh Mann-Rea has joined the camp in preparation.

Tatafu Polota-Nau is also close to making a return, diligently running sprints and drills on the sidelines at training in Perth this week, but the NSW hooker is still at least a week from being ready to run on. 

It's babies everywhere at the moment, with imminent Springbok centurion Bryan Habana bringing his wife Janine and their 11-week-old son Timothy on tour to Australia. 

When The Breakdown caught up with Habana this week, the winger was delighted to have his family with him – and also tuckered out. Even jet lag glasses can't help with a three-month-old. 

NUMBERS UP

Saturday's Test match is tracking towards a crowd of 25,000 at Patersons Stadium. 

That would be a marked improvement on the 18,000 who turned up to watch the Wallabies and Pumas wrestle each other in the rain last year. 

But with gusty winds and a "very high chance of showers" in the afternoon and evening, the Wallabies could be about to further enhance their reputation as wet-weather specialists. 

A fair proportion of the crowd will be Springboks fans, such is the size of the South African expatriate community in Perth. 

The Force have taken on the profile of their community within the squad. Six members of the Super Rugby squad are from South Africa, while assistant coaches Kevin Foote and Dave Wessels also hail from the republic. 

Even Kyle Godwin, a home-grown star, has African roots. He was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Australia when he was eight. 

STARS ARE OUT

There's quite the line-up of stars in the National Rugby Championship this week. 

Henry Speight and Joe Tomane join the Canberra Vikings in their clash with Queensland Country in Canberra on Saturday afternoon, and Australia's long lost world-class halfback Will Genia will make his return from injury in Brisbane City's match against Melbourne Rising at Ballymore on the same day.

Soon-to-be Waratah Andrew Kellaway, the competition's top try scorer, led the NSW Country Eagles against the North Harbour Rays on the Thursday night broadcast match at Brookvale Oval.  

And Adelaide will host its first NRC match when the Perth Spirit host the Greater Sydney Rams on Saturday afternoon.

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