Kiwis and England get a taste of US ahead of Denver Test
New Zealand prop Martin Taupau is no stranger to the inside of a gym, so to watch him be left in awe of the facilities afforded the NFL's Denver Broncos said it all.
Arguably the strongest man in the Telstra Premiership, Taupau said the gym and other training facilities at the team's Englewood base were something else.
Denver's 850 square-metre gymnasium and the 1700 square-metre indoor conditioning centre are a far cry from what Taupau is used to at the Manly Sea Eagles.
"The gym itself was half the size of a stadium," he said. "You've got weights that just go on forever, everything you need to be a successful team they have got it. It was awesome just to check it out.
"To see their indoor turf field was awesome, it was the size of an aircraft hangar. We saw the change rooms, the cafeteria where they eat and that sort of stuff. They have got the three championship trophies that they won displayed there. It was awesome."
Fellow Kiwis prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was equally impressed with what the team saw in their 90-minute visit to one of the NFL's most-storied franchises.
"We rocked up and we were amazed but then once we went through the facilities, it was a once in a life time opportunity to do something like that," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
"It was pretty cool to go through and see the championship trophies, their changing rooms and just the little small details that is in their lockers, and then to go through the fields and to hear about the heating facilities under the grass to melt the ice.
"For someone who comes from the NRL it was just next level. I have been through a few soccer clubs in the UK but that today was the best I have ever seen, that's for sure. It was amazing."
Kiwis coach Michael Maguire said the visit was one he and his players would long remember.
"As coaches, we all run around visiting big soccer clubs or NFL clubs but being able to take players into those arenas is a massive benefit too,'' he said.
"I think it also helps the players to understand the different level of professionalism outside of where they are at."
The trip to Denver has given players from both the New Zealand and England teams an insight into American sport, with England getting on the field to watch batting practice ahead of the match between the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets at Coors Field.
England stars Sam Burgess, Gareth Widdop, Sean O'Loughlin and Ryan Hall were invited onto the field for the ceremonial first pitch, along with Kiwis players Jordan Kahu, Isaac Liu, Ken Maumalo and Esan Marsters.