Much has been made of Ireland’s second Test with South Africa being played at altitude in Johannesburg this Saturday but as far as Mike Ross is concerned, it could be much worse.
In the aftermath of Ireland’s famous win over the Springboks above the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town last Saturday, Ross said he was “not particularly looking forward to the altitude next week” in Johannesburg.
The Irish squad flew up to the Highveld on Sunday from sea level to about 1700 metres which South African exercise physiologist Ross Tucker has classified as moderate altitude. Ross has experienced much worse, albeit in a simulated atmosphere.
“No, never (played at altitude) but I’ve done some research on it. I’ve trained at altitude when I was in a tent and it was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever done,” the Ireland tighthead prop said.
“Leinster got an altitude tent for pre-season about two seasons ago, they dropped the oxygen down to about 13 per cent and then you had to do about 10 minutes of very intense exercise and, honestly, your vision was going black around the edges coming out of it.
“Johannesburg, I’ve looked it up and it’s about 82 per cent oxygen there so hopefully, with a week in, we’ll adjust to it. It could be worse, yeah. I don’t think Johannesburg is as bad as the tent.” The effects will be further negated by South Africa having had to make the same switch but the one difference Ross is expecting is a Springboks side playing hurt having been stung by losing to 14-man Ireland.
“It’s good to create history that way but, at the same time, we know there’s another two Tests in this series and I think they’ll come back pretty fired-up next week.
“We’ll enjoy this win but, at the same time, we know we have a task on the our hands with the next two games because they’re a very proud rugby nation and they’ll be absolutely foaming at the mouth next weekend I’d say.” Ross added there was plenty of work to do in the Ireland camp this week to raise their own game for the Ellis Park showdown.
“I wasn’t overly happy with scrum. Look, we were down to seven forwards for a large part of it so I think we can do better there.
“We have our own work-ons too looking at that during the week. Now, we’ll be able to have a look at the structure under Allister Coetzee so I’m sure the brains trust in the coaching squad will be doing a bit of work to see if we can exploit anything.”
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