Lions 2013: Hong Kong heat not an issue says Andy Farrell

BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS v BARBARIANS

  • Venue: Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
  • Date: Saturday, 1 June
  • Kick-off: 12:30 BST

Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, mobiles and app

British and Irish Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell insists the players facing the Barbarians on Saturday can handle the heat in Hong Kong.

Temperatures are set to reach 30C at kick-off, with humidity at 80-90%.

"The players have coped very well when they have trained in these very hot conditions, so it won't be a problem whatsoever," Farrell said.

Analysis: The risks with heat

The immediate risk of playing sport in hot weather is dehydration, which can lead to heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

But even with adequate water intake, really hot and humid temperatures can still lead to problems.

The main concern is heat stress, where the body is not able to cool itself down through sweating. This can cause nausea, dizziness and confusion.

In the worst cases, an athlete can collapse and lose consciousness. This is known as heat stroke and should be treated as a medical emergency.

"Once they are in the middle of the game, they are thinking about rugby, not heat and exhaustion."

The players will be given water breaks every 15 minutes during the match on Saturday to help them to cope with the heat.

Farrell reported some players lost 3-4kg after their first training session on Wednesday, although this was reduced to around 1kg after Thursday's session.

The International Rugby Board's own player welfare guidelines recommend that, if practical, training and matches should take place when temperatures are below 30C and humidity is below 60%.

The Lions players undergo a 'wellness test' every morning, have to provide regular urine samples to ensure they are properly hydrated, and are weighed before and after training.

There will be giant water fans, which blow a cooling mist, on the side of the pitch for Saturday's game.

In addition, players will also be able to wrap themselves in ice vests and put ice towels over their head at half-time and full-time to help them cool down.

"It is good for the boys to do something different, get out in the sun and humidity and sweat a bit," Farrell said. "They have adapted fantastically well, and trained very intensely. They are all itching for a game now.

Lions fixture list

  • Sat 1 June: Barbarians, Hong Kong
  • Wed 5 June: Western Force, Perth
  • Sat 8 June: Queensland Reds, Brisbane
  • Tue 11 June: Combined New South Wales-Queensland Country, Newcastle
  • Sat 15 June: New South Wales Waratahs, Sydney
  • Tue 18 June: ACT Brumbies, Canberra
  • Sat 22 June: Australia, First Test, Brisbane
  • Tue 25 June: Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne
  • Sat 29 June: Australia, Second Test, Melbourne
  • Sat 6 July: Australia, Third Test, Sydney

"This squad are in brilliant nick after the weeks we had in Wales and Ireland to get them up to match intensity.

"I wouldn't expect them to be fantastically in tune but I would expect an intensity that the Barbarians may struggle with."

The tourists' starting side contains 11 players making their Lions debuts, with 17 of the match-day squad pulling on the famous red shirt for the first time.

With effectively only five matches before the team for the first Test against Australia is decided, good early impressions are vital. But Farrell insists the players will swiftly banish any nerves against a strong Baa-Baas side containing a host of international stars.

"Everyone understands they may only get a couple of starts to show what they have got, and there will be a few nervous bodies around," he added.

"But these boys are the best of the best, they are all good Test-match arena players and they cope with the pressure really well.

"The rugby intelligence and togetherness in the squad is definitely there for all to see. When you have got that, those nerves go out the window. Everyone is keen to get the show on the road now."