The Wales rugby team have resorted to using baby oil in their preparations for the World Cup, with the expectation of humid temperatures in Tokyo weighing heavily on the mind.
Kiwi coach Warren Gatland has told BBC Sport as much, explaining that his sessions in Japan have employed oil-covered balls to help the players get used to the humidity and the effects it carries.
The Welsh will open their World Cup campaign against Georgia next Monday in Tokyo and have been warming up in training camps in Switzerland and Turkey. Gatland told the aforementioned publication that the locations presented the squad with altitude and temperature challenges and he’s been implementing the use of wet and oiled balls to get his men ready.
“We’ve been using wet balls and been using baby oil on them as well,” he said. “We have been to two camps where one was at altitude and it was very hot in Switzerland, and then it was the late 30s in Turkey.
“We’ve done as much as we possibly can in terms of dealing with the heat.
“I think the humidity is going to be a factor. You can see how warm it is, but with the later kick-offs those temperatures are going to drop to about 20 degrees. “It’s going to be a lot cooler, but the challenge then is going to be the humidity and dealing with a slippery ball. It’s how we cope with that.”
The tournament kicks off this Friday, with hosts Japan taking on Russia. Defending champions New Zealand will begin their quest to retain the Cup with a game against South Africa in Yokohama on Friday night.
The hosts are at 1/500 to win the opening match with Bet365, who have Russia at 33/1, and fans can find some great rugby betting odds at Aussie Free Bet. The All Blacks are favourites to beat South Africa at 4/11, with the opposition at 9/4.
Meanwhile, Wales are 1/33 to win their opening match with William Hill and Georgia are at 12/1. Betfair are offering 80/1 odds on a draw.
The defending champs are going into the tournament as the bookies’ favourites at 5/4 with Betvictor and 6/4 with Unibet. Ladbrokes have 4/1 odds on South Africa while Skybet have 9/2 on England, and Paddy Power have placed 8/1 odds on Ireland. The Welsh are 9/1 with 888sport.
Gatland’s side will play Australia, Fiji, and Uruguay following their opener against Georgia and we have yet to see if their baby oil training will pay off. To be fair, it’s a pretty great idea as it will get the squad better prepared to deal with slips and other conditions they might be unused to.
William Hill also has finalists bets on offer and Wales vs New Zealand is currently at 8/1. The bookmakers favour a final between South Africa and New Zealand, which is at 5/2. New Zealand vs Ireland is at 6/1, while England vs New Zealand is 9/1.