The New Zealand touring squad visited Ospreylia on Wednesday, where they made use of the state-of-the-art training facilities at the region's Llandarcy HQ.
The likes of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Luke McAlister and Rodney So’oialo spent two hours training at the Academy of Sport under the watchful eye of coaches Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, for their first full training run since arriving in the UK ahead of Saturday’s game against Wales at the Millennium Stadium, the first of this year’s autumn internationals.
The All Blacks were treated to the best mix of Ospreylian weather, as it veered between sunshine, torrential rain and hailstorms, before the players took the time to catch up with some old friends amongst the Ospreys, ahead of the region’s afternoon training session in preparation for the LV= Cup clash with Northampton.
The Ospreys coaches also enjoyed the opportunity to meet-up with their New Zealand counterparts, where they were able to share their views and discuss current issues surrounding the game.
Ospreys Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, who arrived at the region following a stint as High Performance Manager for the NZRFU, said:
“It was a pleasure to be able to welcome the All Blacks to the region, and for them to make use of our world class training ground for the day. It was a very important day for the All Blacks with it being their first full training run since arriving in the UK, and for our facilities to be considered up to scratch is a clear indication of the quality of the environment we are creating. Their presence here today has really projected the Ospreys on an international stage. In the same way, I'm sure that Warren Gatland will take advantage of his contacts at the Chiefs and make use of their facilities when Wales are based in Hamilton next summer.
“In addition to the quality of our facilities, one of the main reasons that they opted to come to Llandarcy is that our two organisations share a common ideology, which is development from within. We, like the New Zealand RFU, are committed to the ongoing development of local coaching and playing talent, and our board has shown that lately by the support of our new development plan and the recruitment of a third physio and a nutritionist.
“I know that our coaches certainly enjoyed meeting up with Graham and his team, and found it a valuable opportunity to pick their brains. Hopefully, this will be a start of a strong relationship between them, which will help with the ongoing development of our younger coaches, and that is something that will benefit the Ospreys immensely in the long term.
“Hopefully this will be just the first link-up between the two as we would love to be able to welcome them back. Just the presence of the All Blacks sparks interest in rugby amongst the local population, wherever they go, and that is no different in this region, there was a real air of excitement about the place.
“We hope to see them returning to Ospreylia when they return to Wales next, I know that we certainly enjoyed playing host to them for the day.”
To see our gallery of the All Blacks at Llandarcy click here