Kiwis 'not guessing' over Denver Test preparations

Daniel Gilhooly

The Kiwis have landed in Denver and set about debunking what they say is a myth surrounding the hardship of their Test against England.

Coach Michael Maguire said his players were "bouncing around" as they checked into their hotel ahead of the clash at Mile High Stadium on Sunday morning (AEST).

The venue for the mid-season Test has drawn ire from NRL clubs and officials and resulted in the selection of a weakened New Zealand team, with several experienced players unavailable for cloudy reasons.

However, Maguire is adamant he has named a competitive squad and says player welfare has been a priority from the moment the fixture was announced.

Team doctor Greg Macleod has been involved with the Highlanders Super Rugby team for four seasons and says the Denver assignment is remarkably similar to a trip to South Africa, in terms of the travel distance and preparation timings.

He noted the 1600m altitude is lower than what they encounter in Johannesburg and similar to other South African cities where Kiwi and Australian rugby teams have honed their preparatory knowledge base for 20 years.

"We're not terribly stressed about the altitude. It's probably more of a psychological factor than anything," Macleod said.

"We'll get it training. Guys will get a good sense of what it's like to play at that altitude and that's the way you can adapt."

Michael Maguire. Pic: Getty

Macleod said their plans around hydration, illness immunity, eating and sleeping was carefully co-ordinated and available to any NRL clubs that wanted to see it.

The next 48 hours will be a gradual easing in process as the players adjust to the time difference and familiar daytime temperatures ranging from 22-28C.

"We're not guessing. We'll know when the guys are ready to get some decent quality intensity training."

Outside back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak said he began acclimatising with Colorado time from the moment his Penrith Panthers finished their NRL loss to the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.

Watene-Zelezniak saw banners promoting the Test as they drove from the airport and chuckled when he heard a radio advertisement publicising the clash as "big hits with no pads".

The team have been told a crowd of more than 20,000 is expected at a venue with a capacity of 75,000.