3 Mar 2009

O'Neill turns up heat on early season start

6:00 am on 3 March 2009

The Australian Rugby Union's boss John O'Neill wants to wipe `sunscreen rugby' off the Super 14 calendar after the collapse of Springboks flanker Juan Smith in summer-time Brisbane heat.

O'Neill says the Super 14 starts too early and he doesn't want to see matches, day or night, played before mid-March in future.

The Cheetahs skipper Smith was rushed to hospital with heat stress and concussion after falling in the dressing room following his team's 22-3 loss to the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

He was recovering on the Gold Coast on Monday after requiring a saline drip to restore his fluids overnight.

Reds forwards reported losing four to seven kilograms while playing in 32-degree heat and 66 per cent humidity in the afternoon game.