Wales players are set to be exposed to a week of training at a cryotherapy center ahead of the Six Nations Grand Slam winners’ two Test tour of South Africa next month, coach Warren Gatland announced on Tuesday.
The New Zealander has selected a 24-man training squad who will gather on Monday at Whites of Wexford, south-east Ireland, a hotel which has its own cryotherapy chamber.
Cryotherapy is a process in which the body is briefly subjected to extremely low temperatures below minus 110ºC. Enthusiasts say this reduces recovery time from muscle strain and injuries, making it particularly useful for sportsmen by allowing them to do more training in a shorter space of time than would normally be possible.
“Cryotherapy is something that has been around in sport for some time and something I’ve used before at specific times as an aid to training at various camps in Poland whilst I was in charge of Ireland and London Wasps,” Gatland said.
“The facilities at the camp in Wexford will be top notch, but as much as anything else this is a chance for us to gather as a group for the first time since the Six Nations, to train together and to prepare ourselves for a tough tour against the Springboks,” he said.
Gatland, whose side face world champions South Africa in Bloemfontein on June 7 before the second Test in Pretoria a week later, has brought in uncapped London Irish scrum-half Warren Fury, Dragons No. 9 Andy Williams and Llanelli full-back Morgan Stoddart in addition to calling-up most of his Slam squad.
Injuries have forced Gavin Henson (ankle), Dwayne Peel (shoulder), Mark Jones (groin), Deiniol Jones (shoulder), Mike Phillips (knee) and Robin Sowden-Taylor (shoulder) to miss the training camp — although neither Henson nor Peel have yet been ruled out of the tour altogether.
Backs Lee Byrne and Sonny Parker will have knee injuries assessed later in the week to ensure they can travel to Ireland for the fitness work.
Gloucester duo Gareth Cooper and Gareth Delve were left out because of their club’s English Premiership play-off hopes.