WHILE the Kiwi rugby league team switch off and enjoy some down time in the south of France, the same can’t be said for the support staff.
New Zealand are carrying a 12-strong backroom which features two coaches, two managers, two trainers, two physios, a doctor, a logistics manager, a performance analyst, a sports psychologist and a media manager.
Additionally, World Cup organisers provide an English team liaison officer as well as an interpreter for the French leg, which winds up in Nice before the side relocate to Leeds on Monday (local time).
“I suppose it seems like a high number of staff, but I can assure you everyone’s pretty busy,” team manager Tony Iro said.
“The players’ demands are just so much more now. They get looked after so well at NRL level, so we need to provide at the very least the same level if not better.”
The fact that the world champions have to cover the most miles of any side at the tournament and spend time in a non-English speaking country also complicates things, Iro says.
“It’s all the little things, like where do you get you numbers printed on your jerseys and how you get embroidery done and where do you get your laundry done?
“Is the bus going to turn up? Is the training ground going to be fine?
“Where’s the gym? Where can you do ice baths? Where’s the yoga teacher?”
The Kiwis have two wins from as many starts in pool play at the tournament, beating Samoa 42-24 first up before dominating France 48-0 on Sunday.
Iro said Avignon in particular provided some logistical challenges, with sketchy details around schedules and the match-day itinerary.
“We’ve had some hiccups already, but we’ve managed to improvise or find a solution.”
Iro, a former Kiwis’ assistant coach, is well aware his role is behind the scenes, but has little difficulty in letting coaches Stephen Kearney and Ivan Cleary do their jobs.
“I still have an opinion but I keep it to myself,” he said.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect for Stephen and Ivan. They’re working really well together and I know how good they are, so I feel like the boys are in more than good hands.”