CONDITIONS SHOULD suit Leeds Rhinos in Friday’s Downer World Club Challenge.
Rhinos are used to playing in the cold and wet, on muddy pitches, at this stage of the season, but that won’t be the case on Friday.
The AAMI Park field – used all year round, including on Tuesday when Melbourne Victory drew 3-3 with Ulsan Hyundai in football’s Asia Champions League – is in good nick.
It was 29 degrees at 8pm on Tuesday, but the temperature has dropped since.
The forecast for Friday’s 8pm kick-off (9am UK time) is 18 degrees, with no rain and moderate wind.
In other words, it is a far cry from the game at Elland Road a week ago, when Rhinos struggled to hang on to a greasy ball in driving rain.
Given a choice, they’d much prefer it this way.
Tuesday was the players’ day off so they did not train on the hottest day of the week, but the conditions here have made for some good sessions.
With no need for everyone to dash for cover as soon as training ends, the coaches have had more time to talk things through with the players than they usually get at this time of year.
In effect, this has been a mini warm-weather camp and Rhinos have been delighted with the facilities available to them, including ARL club Collingwood’s gym and pool and the same training field Storm use.
Despite the travel, Rhinos have had the same number of sessions as for a game at home, but the intensity has been higher and there’s now a real big-game feeling in the camp.