THE TOUGHER the better.
That is the mantra of Kookaburras coach Graham Reid after subjecting his 16-man squad to a hellish Rio lead-up that has battle-hardened them for Brazil’s challenges.
Reid has spent the past two years with his all-conquering team deliberately introducing delays and setbacks so they can acclimatise to Rio’s expected hardships.
From replicating the expected traffic snarls of the Rio bus ride at tournaments to forcing players to switch rooms every night, everything has been geared towards expecting the unexpected.
The Kookaburras flew out from Sydney on Tuesday aware they would likely have to stay in the media village for a night before moving into the athletes village.
It was the perfect reinforcement of Reid’s preparation – at this year’s London Champion’s Trophy he forced them to switch hotels after a night in case it happened in Rio.
“We have tried to do everything we can to prepare these players,’’ said Reid of his dominant Kookaburras side.
“They have turned up for training and there were no balls, we had a game where the coaches didn’t turn up, we made them stay on the coach at the Azlan Shah Tournament for 45 minutes which is the predicted travel time for Rio.
“We have made them pack and unpack every night and then get a new roommate every day.
“At the London Champion’s Trophy we went to a different hotel straight off the plane and then a day and a half later we moved into another hotel. Funnily enough it’s what will be happening in Rio.
“The whole idea is to make sure we don’t get to Rio and haven’t prepared the guys properly.”
Reid says with bus drivers from across Brazil to ferry his players from the athletes village to the Deodoro precinct in Rio getting lost is a certainty.
But with the majority of his squad playing extensively in India he says leaky pipes and clogged toilets are the least of their worries.
He says the decision to force the men to coach themselves was a way of empowering them should that situation occur again.
“The whole concept is to try to make it very self-determined by the team.”
Kookaburras midfielder Simon Orchard said Reid had tried to consider every potential distraction in Rio ahead of time.
“We have done the risk matrix of everything that could happen in Rio,’’ he said.
“What if we get sick? What if something happens to our family? There are a whole bunch of what-ifs that we have crossed off.”