Super secret training
With the climate of paranoia that exists around big tournaments, media access to team training has been tightly controlled. The press have been granted just 15 minutes at the start of training runs to get television footage and photographs of the teams on the field.
The secrecy around a full-blown All Black training run could rival anything at Area 51, while the Springboks warm-up behind the kind of security that once accompanied their infamous forerunners on these shores back in 1981.
Some sides like Japan and Italy simply seem glad of the coverage, so they're a little more generous, giving photographers 20 minutes to get in there and do their thing before they are asked to leave.
The Georgians do things differently. Georgia clearly have no such concerns about their gameplan falling in to the wrong hands.
Their training in Queenstown on Friday is open to all media for the full duration.
Australia's halfback Will Genia is quick on the field and fairly sharp off it too.
Genia and the not-quite-as-verbose Wallaby No 8 Radicke Samo were the focus of a media scrum at the team's hotel yesterday. With space an issue, the journos at the front had to crouch down, leading one TV reporter to quip: "What's it like having a whole bunch of Kiwis on their knees in front of you?" Genia replied: "It's pretty special, hopefully we can have that by the end of the tournament."
Shag's press tips
IMedia training guru Steve Hansen offered this gem of advice for aspiring John Pilgers the day before the All Black side was named for the opening match: "Just so we all understand each other - we know the team is going to be named tomorrow, so we can't answer who's going to be in the team. So if you want rather average answers try asking me [who's in] the team and I'll give you rather average answers. If you want real good questions answered, ask me good questions and you'll get good answers."
Shag's press tips II
And Shag can spot journalistic talent, too. When explaining how tough it would be to fill in for Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw, he had this hat-tip for TV3's Jim Kayes: "Like you, Jimmy: they wouldn't be able to replace you, because you're a world-class reporter."
If crowd support really does play an important part in boosting a team on the field, then the Tongans may well be unstoppable at the Rugby World Cup with 7000 screaming fans greeting them at Auckland Airport on Monday. Not far behind in support were the All Blacks, with 3000 fans attending the official welcome at Aotea Square on Saturday, while 2000 people welcomed Samoa. Five thousand people lined the Whanganui river to watch the USA team row in waka.
At the other end of the scale, just a couple of hundred Australian fans turned up to see the unloved Tri-Nations champions arrive on Tuesday.
Whelcome for USA
The pace of change is bewildering. Last week's releases from RWC HQ had the United States team stationed at Wanganui. This week - in a move presumably designed to bait Michael Laws - they've been relocated to Whanganui. Kia ora, guys!
Price of precociousness
Poor old Justin Bieber. Not only has James O'Connor landed himself the opening page in Robbie Deans' Big Book of Bad Little Bastards, he's also being treated as the workplace junior. O'Connor is the youngest player in the Wallaby camp for the fourth straight year. The punishment for being good and young: looking after the team mascot, Wally, a stuffed-toy Wallaby.
World War III
CupShorts' insider with the Russian team tells us the men from the land of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Vasily Zaytsev are on a special mission.
Realistically, they're unlikely to put a dent on Australia, Ireland or Italy, but the clash with their other Group D opponent, the USA, has put a little sting into the Russians' vodka.
"These guys are fired up for the Cold War match," says our source "For them, that's their World Cup final."
The Cold War match: Next Thursday, 7.30pm, in New Plymouth.
Missiles will fly.
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