Following recent suggestions that the NRL will seek to stop the June test in Denver between England and New Zealand, NZRL’s insistence that preparations are going well is music to the ears of international fans.
Citing concerns such as insurance and their players playing at altitude, the NRL are apparently keen to see the test cancelled – whether that is just an excuse is a different matter entirely – but, much like his England counterpart Chris Brookes, the Kiwi’s team doctor Greg Macleod has confirmed that he holds no concerns regarding player welfare. “It’s not what I would consider significantly high altitude and it is not the level of altitude where you would expect altitude sickness,” he said, further revealing that “I’ve spoken to medical staff in Denver – including paramedics who run the medical support at the stadium and work with Denver Broncos – and one gentleman who has been there for 27 years as a paramedic said he’s never seen a case of altitude-related illness from people playing at Mile High Stadium.”
New Zealand’s team manager confirmed that player welfare is of paramount importance to the organisation, saying that “there’s always a lot of preparation that goes into any fixture the Kiwis play in, whether it’s a Test or a tour, and travelling overseas, regardless of where it is means the same rigorous processes are undertaken.” Furthermore, she articulated that having experts such as Macleod involved leaves her confident regarding the well-being of players.
This test has been riddled with complications if the media is anything to go by but, after initially scepticism around the venture, Kiwis captain and Warriors forward Adam Blair is the latest player to jump on board, revealing that “everything looks like it’s falling into place and I’m excited not only for the international game but for NZRL as this is a great opportunity to showcase our game in America.”
Player insurance has also been confirmed recently and the players will receive benefits that mirror the current NRL, State of Origin and ANZAC Test insurance policies. This follows an open letter signed by all of England’s NRL stars and coach Wayne Bennett clearly stating their desire for the test to go ahead and for the Australian competition to release players for it.