David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

League: Slammin' Sam Lisone and art of mind maintenance

"I like to meditate," said Sam Lisone. Photo / Greg Bowker
"I like to meditate," said Sam Lisone. Photo / Greg Bowker

Fiery Warriors interchange front-rower Sam Lisone has revealed he is practising meditation to help relieve pre-game anxiety and keep a clear head while tearing into opposition forwards.

Playing his third season in the NRL, Lisone has forged a reputation as a no-nonsense and aggressive prop who throws himself into everything in both attack and defence.

The 23-year-old has an old-school approach but has incorporated new-age mindfulness into his match preparation as he looks to be a more effective player.

"I like to meditate," said Lisone.

"I've got a meditation app on my phone, it's called 'Mindfulness'. I do 10 minutes a day to just clear my head and narrow my focus.

"It helps with your breathing. I get a bit of anxiety sometimes about the game and meditating calms me down and keeps my head clear."

Former Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden introduced the practice to Lisone, in an effort to keep a lid on his racing thoughts and emotions during games.

If anything, Lisone has been guilty of going too hard too early, and has found himself struggling to maintain his best form after coming on to the field looking to rip and tear.

"Cappy and I have been talking about how I can manage my energy," he said.

"Sometimes last year, I used to burn myself out 12 minutes into my stint. Now I'm doing two 20-minute stints. If I'm lucky, 45 or 46 minutes all up," he said. "So it's just about managing your energy and when you're tired, slowing your breathing down and thinking about your next job before moving again. It keeps me focused and takes your mind away from how tired you are."

Coming off the interchange bench over the first seven games of the season, Lisone is relishing playing alongside senior props James Gavet, Jacob Lillyman and versatile forward Ligi Sao.

As much as he's trying to embrace a more Zen outlook, the team's veteran hard heads are making sure he retains his rugged edge.

"Old James and Ligi have got that bit of mongrel in them and that's what our club and team needs.

"I like that about them because they get into me and when I see them run hard, I want to have a crack too.

"When we're all on the field we fight over the ball, and we all start talking amongst ourselves because we all want to run.

"The kick-off runs, especially, James and I argue over who wants it."

With Kiwis international front-rower Ben Matulino due back from a long injury layoff in the coming weeks, Lisone knows his spot may come under threat.

In typical style he's looking forward to the extra competition and hopes his friend's playing return can drive his own game to new heights.

"It excites me more. Benny and I are really tight and he's one of my closest mates at the club.

"I'm pretty happy for him and I know what he's been through.

"To see him work hard and get his body right, I can't wait to play with him again."

- Herald on Sunday

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