NRL: Warriors pushing through the pain

By Kris Shannon

Sio Siua Taukeiaho (C) runs in a fitness drill during a Warriors NRL training session at the Millenium Institute. Photo / Getty Images.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho (C) runs in a fitness drill during a Warriors NRL training session at the Millenium Institute. Photo / Getty Images.

It has been back to reality for the Warriors this week as the team endured a `Mad Monday' of a different kind.

The players reported for the first day of pre-season training at the start of the week and there has been more grimacing than grinning about being back to work.

Pre-season training is notoriously punishing at the best of times but it is no surprise to learn, after last year's disastrous NRL campaign, the players have been pushed particularly hard over the past few days.

"Tired and sore,'' was how prop Jacob Lillyman described the collective camp.

"Yesterday morning I could barely get out of bed - my calves were that sore. That's all part of the first week, that's what you expect. But they're certainly not taking it easy on us.''

With a new coaching staff, including a revamped strength and conditioning department, keen to make an impression on the players there were no warm welcomes on Monday morning.

"Monday was a bit of a shock to the system - there was no easing into it,'' Lillyman said.

"I think the coaching staff are making a bit of a statement there. We certainly hit the ground running and I guess that set the tone for the whole pre-season.''

As a 10-year veteran in the NRL, Lillyman has been through his fair share of gruelling training sessions, designed to ready the body for the rigours of one of the most demanding competitions in world sport. He was loathe to compare this pre-season with others - as if recalling the horrors was too much to bear - but did say there was one main different this time around.

"Every pre-season is tough but the thing that sets this one out is the pure volume. We're doing four or five sessions a day. We get in at 7.30am and we don't get home till 5pm. Very long days and that's what this pre-season's going to be about.

"We know we've got a lot of work to do and we're going to work hard.''

That was work has perhaps been amplified in this season's preparation considering the year the Warriors have just experienced. After losing a succession of leads, questions were raised over whether the team was fit enough, but Lillyman thought the explanation was more mental tiring than physical.

"That's been bandied around a bit but I don't fully agree with the notion that we weren't fit enough. I think it was more a mental thing last year. We still worked hard in the pre-season and the boys were ready to go.

"There were a lot of factors that went into [last season]. It was just a disappointing year all around. Hopefully this year we can make amends.''

One man hoping the help the Warriors do just that is former player Ruben Wiki, who has moved from part-time to a fulltime strength and conditioning role. Lillyman said, even though his work-outs have been especially taxing, Wiki was the perfect man for the job.

"It's good for him to be back in the club. He's a legend of the game. He's done what we could only dream of, he's got a lot of respect among the boys. So when he says do something, you don't argue, you just get in and do it.''

- APNZ

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