Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 19 News List

World Cup Wallabies endure commando-style camp


By the time the Wallabies get to France for next month's Rugby World Cup, training and match days will look easy after their commando-style "boot camp."

On Stradbroke Island, the Wallabies are in the hands of a group of former Special Air Service commandos -- Australia's top soldiers -- in a camp where food and sleep deprivation and tough hikes and other outdoor activities play a bonding role over five days.

On their first night on Sunday, Australian Associated Press reported that the players were woken at 10pm, forced to leave camp and taken on a 3km march before swimming 300m across a lake while the air temperature was below 0?C.

The Wallabies rappelled down cliffs yesterday morning before another long hike scheduled in the afternoon.

All of the 30-man World Cup squad were taking part except for three players with injuries -- Guy Shepherdson, Wycliff Palu and David Lyons.

Most of the support staff were also taking part, but head coach John Connolly and team manager Phil Thomson were observers.

"In Australia's rugby history there has been great spirit in our sides and these four or five days will go a long way to building that," Connolly said yesterday.

The boot camp is not designed to be as tough as that experienced by the Australian cricket team last year, with rugby management concerned that with the start of the World Cup just over a month away, the squad did not want any additional injuries.

"We've tailored the program to suit our needs with the World Cup close," Connolly said. "It's not the preseason, but we haven't made it easy either."

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