What off season!
There’s certainly no rest for the wicked on TCT. But when it comes to NRL footballers, it’s an eight week break and then the pre-season kicks in with all the good stuff, like conditioning runs.
Blocker Roach once famously said that he didn’t see the point in 400 metre runs as he’d never scored a 400 metre try in his life. Nobody had!
We can all nod and smile at the every-man logic of an old school footballer, but there’s no escaping the truth that rugby league remains a physical contest, and holding an advantage in conditioning goes a decent way towards winning the contest.
How will the Eels shape up?
There are significant staffing changes to the athletic performance department that directly impact the pre-season.
Adrian Jimenez and Lachlan Wilmot have both moved on.
Lachie’s departure was expected as he was planning to take on a new business venture. He’s a thorough professional, and a good bloke. My knowledge of the sports science involved in professional sport, including “prehabilitation”, has certainly been enhanced through the time that he afforded me at training. We all wish him well.
Fortunately, Brendan Inkster was already on staff and he’s stepped up to take on the Head of Athletic Performance role.
Adrian Jimenez has moved to a role with the Dragons.
When I first found out about his departure just after the season ended, I had my concerns. Cuzzy was a hard nosed, hard working, strength and conditioning coach. He delivered results. Adjusting to losing both he and Lachie would be a challenge. After all, the 2019 season saw a very healthy squad for most of the season, and only one player in the top 30 was unavailable during the finals series.
However, the acquisition of Trent Elkin allayed my concerns, and after watching the first field session today, I’m convinced that we’ll continue to see quality outcomes for the players.
And so to today.
The post season representative schedule means that there are NRL players yet to begin their annual break. Consequently, all clubs will have some players who will be late starters to the pre-season. Parra will be no exception.
In today’s group of about 14 players, Andrew Davey was by far the oldest. RCG was out on the field but was not involved in the conditioning work that I observed. Those with NRL experience included Ray Stone, Oregon Kaufusi, Jaeman Salmon and Ethan Parry. Otherwise, this was a rookie group.
As expected, there was a strong conditioning component to this morning’s work.
The players ran a variety of distances, up to 1.2km. Without giving details, the mental aspect was delivered in messages to the players. I’ve previously written that the next step in the team’s development was all about what happens between the ears, so that was sweet music to me.
Surprisingly, today’s group was straight into ball work, with shapes run off the play-the-ball being the focus. This was taken further when the team went to extras – footballs were everywhere.
Catching The Eye
Though the entire group had arrived back in tremendous shape, Stefano Utoikamanu and Oregon Kaufusi impressed as two big blokes physically ready to take on the hard yards.
Kyle Schneider has added size to his frame since this time last year. Given that he’s gained at least 12 to 14 kg of muscle, it was not surprising for this to be noticed.
The new faces included Dave Hollis, Sam Hughes, Harry Duggan and Johnny Fonua.
The group was rounded out by Haze Dunster and Rhys Davies.
I enjoyed the positivity of Day 1. We were welcomed back by staff such as Craig, Mick, Murf and BA. Though the rigours of the work was etched on the players’s faces, the smiles of the footy staff told the story of the day.
Only four months till kick-off!
Images courtesy of Eels media