In less than a week, a squad of Kiwi rugby players will play a Test with England, in of all places, Denver, Colorado.
The actual venue is Sports Authority at Mile High, although sports equipment retailer Sports Authority is no known as the Sports Retailer Formerly Known as Sports Authority, as the company went-belly up due to a combination of competition and its approach to being all things to all people, which resulted in the corporation’s inability to do anything well.
No matter. The residents of the Mile High City have never stopped calling the facility Mile High Stadium, even though the current facility is not the same one that was a sports icon in the U.S. for years.
The primary tenant has always been and still is the Denver Broncos of the NFL and it could be assumed that at least some of those who turn out for the New ZealandEngland Test will be there under the assumption that there will be some sort of Broncos exhibition.
The Kiwis had better hope for an overcast day. Elsewise, they can expect blazing sun combined with a most noticeable shortage of atmospheric oxygen at the field that is far above sea level.
Golfers love Denver because the ball travels farther, but someone in an All Black kit on what could be expected to be a day in the neighbourhood of 35 degrees will be left dehydrated and gasping.
Supplemental oxygen and copious amounts of electrolyte enhancing beverages will be required for both sides to make it through the entire match.
New Zealand Coach Michael Maguire has been compelled to top-up with inexperienced players and he was quite insistent that it was not a development squad. He has named seven new faces to the 19-man group due to injuries and retirements from international play.
The long-haul travel, and the high-altitude venue is expected to take a toll on the players who have to go back to club play on short turnaround, but New Zealand at least has a seemingly inexhaustible pool of talent from which to draw.
Pity the Brits, the sunny clime of Denver will make them seem like Dracula exposed to daylight.