September 27, 2019 / 9:18 AM / in 5 months

Food challenge as All Blacks embrace Japanese culture in downtime

BEPPU, Japan (Reuters) - It seems the old joke that the most dangerous place to stand in a rugby team was between a prop and a plate of food has some basis after all, if you believe All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor.

FILE PHOTO - New Zealand's Maori All Blacks' Codie Taylor (R) is tackled by Japan's Ayumu Goromaru as he dives to score a try during their international rugby test match in Tokyo November 8, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

With the team looking for things to do in their downtime in the 11 days between their first and second games, minds have turned to recreation and relaxation. And eating.

“We’ve had pretty amazing food,” Taylor told reporters at the team hotel in Beppu on Friday as they prepared for their second Pool B match against Canada in Oita on Oct. 2.

“In Japan, they know how to cook a feed - it’s been unreal.

“The boys made a pig of themselves the other night at the Yakiniku (grilled meat), which was quite nice. Joe (Moody) would have put away about two kilos of beef.”

Loosehead prop Moody, who was sitting next to Taylor, did not deny that he had chewed his way through a massive plate of beef, although he mentioned that their diets were pretty strictly controlled and their weight and body fat monitored.

With All Blacks coach Steve Hansen opting for mobile, ball-handling props in Japan, Moody was questioned about how the body shape of his colleagues was evolving.

“It’s good to have a bit of extra cushion for the pushing but at the same time you don’t want to be carrying around too much extra weight for nothing,” Moody said with a grin.

“But it’s good to have a little bit there for taking those contacts and bumps and bruises.”

Moody said the All Blacks did not measure their body fat as a percentage of their weight, relying instead on skinfold tests where a pair of callipers are used to take a series of measurements around the body.

All of the All Blacks front rowers had skinfold measurements under 90 millimetres, Moody said. A measurement under 90mm is considered ‘good’ for adult males.

“Those skinnies might have risen over the last couple of days,” Taylor joked.

Apart from the food, the team also spent part of Thursday testing a traditional sand bath, where the person is covered from neck to foot in the hot volcanic sands found on the southern island of Kyushu.

“We had a big training day the day before,” Moody said.

“The other boys really enjoyed it. Me, personally, I don’t deal with the heat too well, not very good at saunas and that sort of thing - I couldn’t stand there for very long.

“I was only there for about five minutes, the other boys did 15.”

Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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