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Experts from Otago Polytechnic’s Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health (ISEH) are busily preparing the Tongan national rugby team for their test against the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday, 3 July.

Matthew Blair, Principal Lecturer and Academic Leader of ISEH’s post-grad programmes in Strength and Conditioning, has been working closely with the Tongan team, fine-tuning their physicality in the build-up to the international sporting event at Mt Smart Stadium.

Matthew has been joined by Jessica Souchon, who is completing her Master of Applied Science (Performance Analysis), and Bennett Jones, who holds a Master of Applied Science (Physical Conditioning).

"The Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health is committed to supporting current students and graduates as they engage in real-world professional opportunities such as this,” Matthew says.

For the past several days, he and Bennett have been involved in, firstly, analysing the Tongan players’ fitness, including measuring their strength and cardio-vascular fitness; then developing specific programmes to ensure the players are at their peak for the forthcoming test match.

“We are confident things are tracking well,” Bennett says.

“Our boys are doing their best to prepare against the All Blacks, who are the best rugby team in the world.”

Jessica, meanwhile, has been busy analysing footage of the opposition, feeding key data back to Tonga’s coaches to help them determine the best game plan, then videoing Tonga’s training sessions to ensure “clarity” for the players.

“We code certain aspects of the footage, identifying aspects of the team’s performance as well as that of individual players,” Jessica explains.

“There are a range of phases we go through. For example, we will be analysing the game as it unfolds, making notes, all of which is presented back to the coaches and team to review.

“That way, we learn from every game and can continue to develop.”

Read more about our Sports, Exercise and Health programmes

Published on 1 Jul 2021

Orderdate: 1 Jul 2021
Expiry: 1 Nov 2021