The pool games may be over, but the heat is only just about to begin.
The Kangaroos are bracing for the extra burn after arriving in Darwin to begin preparations for their Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Samoa.
The defending champions advanced after cantering to three straight pool wins over England, France and Lebanon in the cooler climates of Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
But while they will make history in what will be the Kangaroos’ first Test in the Northern Territory, players have made a point of avoiding the harsh spotlight at the Top End.
“It’s beautiful here inside this air-conditioned building,” prop Jordan McLean said after landing at Darwin airport on Monday.
“Obviously it’s going to be warm and the humidity is going to be high, but it is what it is. We’ll try not to be outside too much this week, drink a lot of water and try and hydrate up for the game.
“I suppose (the preparation) changes to some degree.”
McLean admits the conditions – a maximum temperature of 36 degrees is expected over the entire week – will be a factor in the match.
Australia are two wins from two Tests against Samoa.
“I’m sure it’ll play a factor to some degree. But we’ve got to play in it, they’ve got to play in it. We’re both going to be feeling the heat,” McLean said.
Staying out of the sun may be high on the agenda, however players are also hesitant to throw shade against a Samoan side that progressed despite failing to win any of their three matches.
Despite boasting the likes of Tim Lafai, Joseph Leilua, Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii, the minnow nation only just advanced after narrowly avoiding defeat to Scotland on Sunday.
“It’s the finals now. Like any competition, it’s a new one for us and Samoa as well,” second-rower Matt Gillett said.
“All we can do is do the little things better than we didn’t do over the weekend and get that right for this game and Samoa otherwise it’ll be our last game.”
McLean was shocked by its winless record at the tournament.
“Definitely it’s pretty surprising. They’re a powerful team and we’ll be in for a big game,” he said.
The Kangaroos signed autographs on Monday afternoon but will ramp up their preparations with a training session on Tuesday, with coach Mal Meninga to name his best 17.
The five-eighth spot remains the most contentious after Cameron Munster scored back-to-back doubles to put pressure on front-runner Michael Morgan.
Meninga also faces a tough decision on who fills the final forwards role on the bench, believed to be between rookies Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Felise Kaufusi.