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Heat was an extra factor in preparation - Plumtree

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    09 Feb 2018     Getty Images

In his sarugbymag.co.za column, Plumtree said heat had been more of an issue than usual and had made the pre-season training tougher.

"We've put a massive emphasis on hydration and have educated the players on how to lose or maintain body weight," he said.

Plumtree said the Hurricanes pre-season had been divided into a three-week block in November with a focus on conditioning and getting kilometres into the players along with some weight training, core work and gymnastics and boxing.

"That first block is a pretty tough grind for the players, coming at the end of a long year. But we've found that as long as they get their rest and breaks from the game, they return mentally fresh and are quite excited about getting back into it again," he said.

"We've got new players coming into the environment who need to learn about our systems, and while we try to put some of them into practice in that three-week period, we can't get it all done."

"Our biggest problem in the pre-season is probably that some of the new players aren't as conditioned and fit as we would like them to be. The seasoned guys who have been with us for two or three years know what to expect, so they come into that first block in pretty good nick, because they know how tough it will be. They have a good fitness base that they maintain," he said.

There was still a mental aspect to the pre-season as well.

"We talk about motivation and what we are striving for, and what the players' goals are in terms of their bodies and how much fitter and stronger we can get them. We want them to see some reward if they train really well," he said.

It was also a case of being aware of monitoring players' training loads in order to avoid injuries.

"All players are different. Someone like Brad Shields may be able to maintain a high load of intensity right through the three-week block, while a first-year Hurricanes player wouldn't be able to cope with that load. We put the guys into groups so their training regimes are slightly different," he said.

Careful monitoring after training runs and the following morning when players describe how they are feeling on a cellphone app allows a screening process to be undertaken when they arrive for their day's training.

There was a two-week break over the Christmas-New Year holidays when players' had individual programmes to follow which was more about maintenance involving speed and endurance sessions, and then they returned for a four-week block from January 8.

Towards the end of January the side's All Blacks return to get involved.