The All Blacks biggest distraction leading up to Saturday’s Vodacom Tri-Nations Test could be the many temptations of Sun City.
The team is based at the luxurious Palace of the Lost City, where the cheapest rooms go for R6,000 a night. Fortunately for them, SA Rugby is footing the bill as part of the tournament’s competition agreement.
The choice of hotel, which is 40km away from Rustenburg, presents the All Blacks with some tricky decisions. Should they spend their time at the wave pool, the night safari, the two championship golf courses or the casino?
However, All Black assistant coach Steve Hansen insisted they would be 100% focused on the rugby.
“The players are seasoned enough to be able to cope with it. . . a hotel’s a hotel, once you get over the gee whiz factor when you drive in,” he said.
The All Blacks selectors will name their team on Tuesday with around 10 changes likely.
Forwards Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Chris Jack, Jason Eaton, Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo should return to the starting side while Byron Kelleher, a fit-again Aaron Mauger, Joe Rokocoko and Doug Howlett are likely candidates in the backs.
Prop Carl Hayman needs to get through two training sessions to prove his fitness after suffering a head knock against the Wallabies.