The city slickers have gone back to basics.

The Blues have forsaken the home comforts and buzz of life in Auckland this week for the much more spartan lifestyle of training and staying at the naval base on the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

The complex has been updated and with accommodation, kitchen, confidence course and training fields, the Blues strategists reckoned it would be ideal for a four-day retreat.

"Everything we need is on tap, it is just down the road from Auckland without any of the home comforts," Blues strength and conditioning coach Mark Harvey said.


The response from the Blues 2012 intake has been varied. Many were a little wary of the unknown and being detached from their home life, others knew it would be a tough slog after previous pre-season campaigns involved firefighting and surviving the mud run at Devonport.

The squad has been asked to navigate their way out of an underground maze this week and yesterday had to report to the parade ground as they tackled other duties around their regular rugby trainings.

"These guys are talented footballers but they had trouble with the left-right, left-right bit on the parade ground and had difficulty marching. Some of them are out of their comfort zone because there are no cafes, no walking down the street to do stuff or wandering out to see some friends," said Harvey.

"They have got to spend some time with each other and even though they have known each other for a long time, when you are living and sleeping with someone for 72 hours you find out all their little habits - who is untidy, who snores in a dormitory with 20 people in there - so there are little things like that." The camp allowed the coaches, management, skills analysts and fitness staff more chances to evaluate the characteristics of those charged with Super rugby duties in the fourth campaign under coach Pat Lam.

"It shows us a few more dynamics, they are out of their comfort zone, this is completely foreign to them," said Harvey.

"They are lining up to eat, there is only one meat choice allowed while they have to do all their cleaning. The military is very keen on that and all these guys have to chip in at the end of the meal and wash their own plates, clean their own dormitories and when we leave each day they have to fold their sheets the right way.

"Whilst we ham it up a little bit that is part of it, to see who chips in and who stands back and lets someone else do the work and I think all those things count for something."

The squad was fit and ready to play after an extra-long conditioning schedule. They wanted to play and needed to as some were getting a bit bored with training. They had never had such a long preparation, their fitness levels were improved but this year's programme is also novel.