Lions acclimatise to ‘altitude’

Lions hooker Lee Mears has been training in an altitude chamber in Bath in preparation for the tour to South Africa.

The Lions start the tour in Rustenburg, Johannesburg, and Bloemfontein before heading to the coast and then return for the final couple of Tests at Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld. The entire squad was meant to head to Spain for altitude training, but a lack of availability meant those plans have been scrapped.

It has also been reported that players will train with special masks to limit the oxygen intake so they are ready for the rigours of playing upcountry.

Mears’s season finished with Bath last weekend when they were defeated in the Premiership semis and he has been training by himself at the University in a bid to be the first-choice hooker.

‘The ultimate goal is to be the number one,’ Mears told the BBC.

‘But I’ve spoken boys who’ve been out on Lions tours and it’s about being the best group of friends you can be.’

Mears is working under the supervision of sports scientist Jonothan Robinson, which started a few weeks ago by just standing in the chamber, and now he is cycling for up to 30-minute periods.

‘The guys that have used it find that it’s a real benefit,’ said Robinson.

‘When they reach an altitude situation they’re a step ahead.’