Howlett Loses His Hair The early start to the Super 14 has brought some drastic actions to counter the heat - including the mop-haired Doug Howlett sporting a new-look buzz cut. The Super 14 kicks off next Friday - two weeks earlier than the old Super 12 to accommodate an expanded draw with the addition of the two new franchises. And with preseason training being pushed forward as well, the heat has taken its toll on the players. The New Zealand franchises have now wrapped up their warm-up matches and are bunkered down for next weekend's kick-off. The Blues host the Hurricanes on Friday night, the Crusaders are at home to the Highlanders on Saturday evening and the Chiefs have headed off to South Africa to take on the Sharks in Durban. New Zealand's humid conditions have put real pressure on players and their performances during January and early February. But Blues coach David Nucifora said knowing everything had been pushed forward had some benefits. The Blues had purposely upped the ante with their fitness work and had been pleased with the results of their trip to Australia where they based themselves on the Sunshine Coast and it's semi-tropical conditions. "You have to manage it. Certainly when we went to the Sunshine Coast for a week of training we were aware of the heat factors and that was a challenge for us and we have to manage the players really carefully," said Nucifora. "I think training in the heat has only been a positive for us in terms of getting the fitness levels up. "I don't really think it has affected us because of that. But round three [of the Super 14] is back in Brisbane in February so it could be a bit warm then." Blues skipper Keven Mealamu said conditions seemed hotter this year and the start to the championship had certainly come around quicker. His vice-captain Howlett has certainly taken some radical measures with a close shave making him almost unrecognisable from the shaggy-haired wing running down the rigth-hand touchline. Credit - http://xtramsn.co.nz/rugby/0,,12428-5342477,00.html Maby his speed will increase, add to the aerodynamics.