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Wales train with ‘wet balls and baby oil’ ahead of World Cup opener

Humid conditions are anticipated throughout the tournament in Japan.

Warren Gatland believes that humidity is going to be a factor during the tournament (Nigel French/PA)
Warren Gatland believes that humidity is going to be a factor during the tournament (Nigel French/PA)

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent, Kitakyushu

Wales have been training for anticipated humid playing conditions at the World Cup by using rugby balls covered in baby oil.

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Head coach Warren Gatland believes that humidity is going to be a factor during the tournament in Japan.

England boss Eddie Jones feels his side are fully equipped to cope with such a scenario, and Wales have also left no stone unturned.

Day-time temperatures at Wales’ current base in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu are 30 degrees-plus, with 75 per cent humidity, and similar weather is expected elsewhere during the 44-day competition.

And Wales have already been taking measures in an attempt to replicate anticipated slippery handling conditions.

Asked about specific humidity preparations, Gatland said: “We’ve been using wet balls and been using baby oil on them as well.

“We’ve taped them up as well, and we’ve already been through that process in the (training) camps we had before we’ve been away.

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Wales have already been taking measures in an attempt to replicate anticipated slippery handling conditions (Nick Potts/PA)

“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.

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“The players who have been to New Zealand will have experienced that. I come from Hamilton, where it’s incredibly humid there.

“We know what it’s like and we have players who have experienced a lot of night rugby, so we feel we’ve prepared well. We are looking forward to it.”

Wales will hold an open training session at Kitakyushu Stadium on Monday, which is expected to be attended by hundreds of locals.

The players received a rapturous reception on their airport arrival, while banners and posters of support and Welsh flags are displayed throughout the city.

PA

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