For those in Hawaii it’s officially game week. As the University of Hawaii Football team is now just four days away from kickoff to their 2016 season against California in Australia.
The Rainbow Warriors who arrived on Saturday night, Hawaii time appears to be well acclimated in the southern hemisphere having tackled three practices this far in winter conditions of 55-degrees, to go with a handful of bowl game like activities which included a trip to ANZ Stadium to watch a National Rugby League match.
Another obligation of course are media gatherings, like today’s press conference held at the historic Sydney Opera House, where the ‘Bows made it very clear that the team is taking advantage and soaking up the experience of the unique trip, but remains steadfast on keeping the countdown to California first and foremost.
Head coach Nick Rolovich said the experience has been smooth sailing so far and the relationship between Australia and Hawaii ties are nothing but positive.
“So far it’s been good, it’s been a great experience,” said Rolovich. “I’ve yet to meet an Australian I don’t like, great people down here. We’ve got a tremendous history with football players and students from Australia at the University of Hawaii so it’s been a great few days so far.”
Rolovich also explained that with a bowl game feel, it’s important to keep the team level headed before the big game.
“The incredible environment, the fan fair, the experience is great for our student athletes, the problem is we haven’t earned anything yet,” said Rolovich. “You usually earn the bowl game experience so we try to keep our guys heads a little bit level making sure they approach it the right way.”
Layton, Utah native, senior wide receiver Marcus Kemp said being in Australia for the first time has been a breathtaking experience so far.
“I love it,” said Kemp. “I’ve only been to one other foreign country, this is a great experience for me. I love seeing stuff that you can only see in pictures from where I’m from, it’s really exciting to be here. The consensus on the team is we want to see a kangaroo, people are really excited.”
Kemp explained with a crowd of 80,000 spectators expected to watch the ‘Bows and Golden Bears at ANZ Stadium, it’s important to soak in the experience but the size of the crowd shouldn’t become a fear factor for the ‘Bows.
“We’re really excited for that, we’ve been in some big stadiums before,” said Kemp. “We’re excited to get after it and play under the lights, it’s really fun, we try to keep a level head like coach said. We try to keep the pressure down and not worry about how many people are watching us play the game, but it’s definitely exciting to know how many people are watching.”
Kick off between the ‘Bows and the Golden Bears is set for Friday 4pm HT on ESPN. The Rainbow Warriors are the 21-point underdogs for the matchup. KHON’s Sam Spangler will provide week long coverage on the ‘Bows from Sydney starting tomorrow.