There’s always plenty for professional rugby league players to balance and consider as they begin their preparation for the pinnacle of their week, game day.
As the Newcastle Knights get ready to embark on the trip to Auckland for their Round 12 match against the New Zealand Warriors, there’s the added element of significant travel that comes into the mix.
While it goes with the territory of playing in the NRL, ensuring players arrive at game day at their ultimate peak comes down to thoughtful and precise management of player routine.
Before Friday’s journey, forward Jack Stockwell takes Knights TV through the team’s travel routine running into Sunday’s big game.
“It’s an early start for us from Mayfield tomorrow,” he said.
The Knights will board their team bus before the sun peeps over the horizon to travel down the M1 to Sydney International Airport to check in for their morning flight.
After three-hours in the air, once grounded in Auckland the players progress through customs to arrive at their team hotel late in the afternoon.
“We will have a sleep-in and then training in the afternoon on Saturday before game day,” Stockwell added.
Looking after their bodies is the emphasis on the flight.
“It’s just about keeping the body moving I guess and wearing some skins on the plane to make sure you don’t tighten right up,” he said.
“We make sure when we get there, we get the body moving right away.”
Stockwell knows the Knights will arrive firing at Mt Smart Stadium but expects the Warriors too to be hungry for a win.
“Playing the Warriors at their home ground is always a big ask", he said.
“They have some big boys too which our forward pack will have to muster up against.
“It’s a challenge for us, but I’m looking forward to it personally and playing those boppers, especially over there as they’ll be fired up with a home crowd.
“It will be challenge against the boys and especially against (Shaun) Johnston, he can turn one on.
“A few people might find it intimidating going over there, but I’m looking forward to it and like coming up against the Warriors over there because there’s a great atmosphere.
“They have passionate fans over there. It’s only one town one team and everyone gets right behind their boys.”
More than anything, Stockwell says the team is eager for another opportunity to action the right changes this week to conjure a valuable win.
“We are looking to win every week, so it’s just about getting our season back on track,” he said.
“I think we can do that starting this week against the Warriors.”