"Don't let Titch break you."
It's the catch phrase the New Zealand Sevens team have picked over the years when it comes to getting through coach Gordon Tietjens' now infamous training sessions.
And it's a mantra the Northern Mystics also adopted at their weekend camp in Mt Maunganui, where Tietjens put the team through their paces.
The camp was part of the Mystics' continuing efforts to boost their fitness, conditioning and teamwork after a disappointing opening season in the transtasman league.
It included a four-hour training session with the sevens coaching legend - a man renowned as a brutal taskmaster.
Before the weekend the Mystics players had all heard the horror stories of "Titch" - as he is known by his team - making players vomit after one of his gruelling fitness sessions.
Tietjens admits he is fanatical about fitness and training, and makes no apologies for it. He demands his players train hard, are disciplined when it comes to eating, and meet his exacting fitness standards.
And it is a regime that works. Under Tietjens' tutelage the New Zealand sevens team have notched up 49 international tournament wins, six world series titles and three consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medals.
Tietjens said he has not always had the most talented team, but he has been able to build a winning culture through the hard work and sacrifices his team have all made for each other.
It is a message he hopes the Mystics, who were criticised heavily for their poor conditioning this season, have heeded over the weekend.
"What they need is the realisation that to win any transtasman competition they need to be incredibly fit. Fitness is a huge ingredient - physically and mentally," he said.
Before the session began, Tietjens addressed some very apprehensive faces in the Mystics camp.
He said he did not expect them to be at the same fitness standard he demands of his own players - all he asked of them was that they "emptied their tanks".
But he said he was pleasantly surprised with the Auckland team's overall fitness and the way they coped with the physically demanding session.
"There's a keenness in this team and I think they're ready to establish a culture about working hard for each other and I think once they create that you'll see a very good team."
Mystics coach Te Aroha Keenan, who was relieved to be an observer at the session, was thrilled the entire team managed to make it through.
"I think they really pushed themselves extremely hard today," said Keenan. "I can see the progress they've made over the last month and a half, but still this is just a starting point. So come January 10 when we're all back together, we've got to take it to another level."By Dana Johannsen Email Dana