The Tall Blacks have been rocked by a stomach virus that has floored five players and three staff members, including coaches Nenad Vucinic and Pero Cameron, on the eve of their game against Slovenia in Lithuania.

Assistant coach Paul Henare said they would have to wait and see who emerged for breakfast today as to who was in any condition to eat properly.

"This is quite a stomach bug that has hit us," Henare said. "We have almost half the playing roster and three of the staff including Nenad and Pero go down with this and be kept away from the rest of the team."

While there were signs of improvement for some last night, as soup and rice was contemplated for a late supper, the team is seeking medical advice.


The illness issue aside, Henare said the Lithuania leg of the tour would provide a lift in intensity as the Tall Blacks eye the World Cup, which begins in Spain on August 30.

"This will be a huge step up, the quality of teams we come up against this weekend is significant, as a team we want to see what we are at against quality opposition. This is a good test for ourselves and one the guys are looking forward to.

"It is hard to say where we are at ourselves, we have had some good form, the Korean series and the two tournaments in China were great results for us but against Slovenia, Lithuania and Greece, all three are world class sides. It is hard to say where we are at until we get out there and do the business against these teams. I know the players are looking forward to it and seeing where we are at, and we are close to Spain now."

More news was expected tomorrow (NZT) around the health of their players ahead of the game against Slovenia, which was due to tip-off at 1.15am on Sunday morning (NZT) with a game against Lithuania to follow on Monday, while the Tall Blacks will meet Greece on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Henare confirmed that centre Alex Pledger wouldn't be considered for World Cup selection due to a foot injury.