Stadium 'cool place' for Barbarians to warm up

Cold and blustery weather forced the New Zealand Barbarians squad to train together for the first time inside the warmth of ILT Stadium Southland.

The rugby team, who met for the first time yesterday , were getting in some training ahead of their game against the Highlanders at Rugby Park tonight.

Southland Stags players on the team were no strangers to swapping the grass for the court and used it regularly on wet days.

The Stags wider training group also used the stadium about three times each month for pre-season conditioning.

The team used the stadium courts to practise dry drills, lineouts, breakdowns and to discuss game play.

Michael Fatialofa and Keanu Kahukura said the springy floors were good for their knees. Unlike other indoor venues, the stadium had a lot of space - about half a rugby field - to train and high a roof for easier kicking, he said.

They also used the stadium to shoot hoops in their spare time.

"Before the stadium was built, I didn't go to any Sharks [basketball] games but now I do. It's such a cool venue," Fatialofa said.

David Hall was glad to have the stadium as an option for training, given Southland's unpredictable weather.

"It's great for a smaller city like Invercargill to have such a multi-purpose venue," he said.

Stags coach Brad Mooar said the stadium was "an awesome facility" and the team used many of its resources for cross-training and fitness.

The Stadium Trust has calculated that it still needs $5 million "to get across the line" and is asking businesses and individuals from throughout Southland to take part in its Rattle the Tin fundraising campaign.

The Southland Times