Rugby: Nary a beer pot and only a few niggles as work resumes

Otago rugby team captains run at Forsyth Barr Stadium last year. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Otago rugby team captains run at Forsyth Barr Stadium last year. Photo by Craig Baxter.

While the rest of us were putting off that diet or fitness regime until at least the new year, or perhaps February or even March, the Highlanders squad had to be careful not to overindulge at Christmas.

The scales and fitness tests do not lie and the team had its first day back on the job yesterday.

Manager Graham Purvis expected everyone to show up in good shape and ready for the remainder of the pre-season. The Highlanders' Super 15 opening match is against the Chiefs on February 22 and there are three pre-season games before that, so Christmas is really over.

''To be fair, they are all professional athletes and their body is the tool of their trade, so they are very aware of what is required,'' Purvis said.

''There are not too many beer pots floating around in the changing rooms these days.

"We're now getting back into the swing of our pre-season. We had a fortnight pre-Christmas to really set the scene for the guys and get their minds on 2013.''

Purvis said most of the troops were present and accounted for. Jake Paringatai will be a little late. He arrives in Dunedin tomorrow.

The side's All Blacks get an extra rest and will join the team at the end of the month, and former All Black Brad Thorn will spend some time with his family in Brisbane before joining the team later in the month.

There are some post-surgery blues and the odd stiff player is limping around but Purvis said there was nothing serious to report.

''We've got a lot of guys carrying niggles and bits and pieces. At this stage we've got a few more on the physio table than we would like to have, but I guess if there is anything more serious, there will be an update in due course.

''Most of the gang are recovering. There has been some off-season operations and tweaks and things. But they seem to all be on target in terms of their return to play.''

The opening pre-season game is against the Chiefs, in Taupo on February 2, and then there are hit-outs against the Crusaders, in Oamaru on February 8 and the Blues, in Queenstown on February 15.

The team will head to Wanaka for a training camp for five days to build up for the match against the Blues.