Wales set for big chill ahead of Bok clash

Wales players are set to be exposed to a week of training at a cryotherapy centre ahead of the Six Nations Grand Slam winners’ two Test tour of South Africa in June, coach Warren Gatland announced on Tuesday.

The New Zealander has selected a 24-man training squad who will gather on Monday at Whites of Wexford, south-east Ireland, a hotel which has its own cryotherapy chamber.

Cryotherapy is a process in which the body is briefly subjected to extremely low temperatures below -110°C.

Enthusiasts say this reduces recovery time from muscle strain and injuries, making it particularly useful for sportsmen by allowing them to do more training in a shorter space of time than would normally be possible.

“Cryotherapy is something that has been around in sport for some time and something I’ve used before at specific times as an aid to training at various camps in Poland whilst I was in charge of Ireland and London Wasps,” explained Gatland.

“The facilities at the camp in Wexford will be top notch, but as much as anything else this is a chance for us to gather as a group for the first time since the Six Nations, to train together and to prepare ourselves for a tough tour against the Springboks.”

Gatland, whose side face world champions South Africa in Bloemfontein on June 7 before the second Test in Pretoria a week later, has brought in uncapped London Irish scrumhalf Warren Fury, Dragons number nine Andy Williams and Llanelli full-back Morgan Stoddart in addition to calling-up most of his Slam squad.

Injuries have forced Gavin Henson (ankle), Dwayne Peel (shoulder), Mark Jones (groin), Deiniol Jones (shoulder), Mike Phillips (knee) and Robin Sowden-Taylor (shoulder) to miss the training camp—although neither Henson nor Peel have yet been ruled out of the tour altogether.

Backs Lee Byrne and Sonny Parker will have knee injuries assessed later in the week to ensure they can travel to Ireland for the fitness work.

Gloucester duo of Gareth Cooper and Gareth Delve were both not selected deliberately because of their club’s English Premiership play-off hopes.

“We have been given the opportunity to go on a pre-tour training camp thanks largely to the support of the coaches and management at each of the four regions in Wales,” said Gatland.

“This is not something that we will be able to do every year, because I would like to see our regions in contention for end of season honours.

“But, with no European competition left at the end of a tough season and with [Ireland’s] Leinster runaway leaders of the Magners (Celtic) League, we have been able to negotiate a position which will hopefully be of benefit to everyone,” Gatland added.

“The regions have allowed us to take the players away for an intensive period of training in advance of our tour to South Africa and I would like to personally express my gratitude for their cooperation.”

Looking forward to the tour, Gatland said: “This is our core group now, but there is also plenty more rugby to be played back before the full compliment of probably 26 players or so is announced on May 14.” - Sapa-AFP

Wales training squad:

Backs: Morgan Stoddart, Lee Byrne, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Tom James, Sonny Parker, Tom Shanklin, Stephen Jones, James Hook, Andy Williams, Warren Fury

Forwards: Ryan Jones, Alix Popham, Martyn Williams, Jonathan Thomas, Ian Evans, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Gough, Duncan Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Rhys Thomas, Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Huw Bennett

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