Perhaps when they are rolling in the money that would come along with more involvement with the sport of rugby by the United States, NRL clubs would not be so concerned about the effect of traveling and playing in Denver.
Denver is 1600 metres above sea level. Denver professional teams in the NBA and NFL have long used this fact to advantage, attempting to run opposing teams to the point of exhaustion. In the MLB, baseballs were flying out of Coors field at such a rate that pop flies that seemed candidates for the infield-fly rule were sailing into the bleachers.
Golfers enjoy playing at high altitude, because nothing better demonstrates virility than the bragging rights of hitting a drive 300 metres. Even putts travel further.
Okay. We were exaggerating on that last one.
Kiwis team doctor Greg Macleod played down the altitude factor. He was more concerned with adjusting the players’ internal clocks to ensure that they were able to adapt to crossing multiple time zones and a date line. Denver’s time zone is GMT/UTC – 7, which works out to about 15 hours, give or take. The flight requires 17 hours and the players were on business class.
The Kiwis have played extensively at Johannesburg, which is half a kilometre higher than Denver.
Macleod told reporters, “We’re not terribly stressed about the altitude, it’s probably more of a psychological factor than anything. Once we get a few training sessions under our belt and we get a sense of what that feels like we’ll get on with the job.”
Any of the players with Super Rugby experience have had experience with long haul travel and the brainiacs charged with preparing players use various methods to assure that players are properly hydrated, fed and rested.
The NRL is accustomed to having its fixture disrupted, what with overseas Tests and State of Origin and it would have to be said that they deal with the disruption remarkably well, far better than the National Hockey League, which refused to release its players to compete in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.