With the Christmas break looming, Knights TV sat down with Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub to get an update on how the team is going and what’s in store for the New Year.
It’s been a long and challenging eight weeks of intense training, and the players are nearing their threshold according to Ayoub.
“As you’d expect at this time of year, they’re just about at their wit’s end,” he said.
“Physically they’ve had enough and as you’d expect, their bodies are really starting to feel the effects of eight weeks of pre-season training.”
The endless hours in the gym and out on the field have paid off though, and the squad has made big improvements.
“We couldn’t be any happier about where they are at the moment compared to this time last year,” Ayoub added.
The veteran five-eighth is close to 100 per cent at the moment, and has successfully resumed team training.
“He’s pretty much been doing every skills session for the last two weeks,” Ayoub reported.
“You look at his shape at the moment and how many kilometres he’s doing, and we couldn’t be happier with where he’s at.”
The physical performance staff are still tweaking his program though, and Mullen will be kept ticking over during the Christmas break.
Sims injured his ankle several weeks into the pre-season, but like Mullen he has returned ahead of schedule and is looking good.
“It looked like it was going to be a long-term injury with that ankle, but our physios did a really good job with him and he came back a lot earlier than we would have anticipated,” Ayoub explained.
“He missed about three weeks of training when he was in the boot, so physically he isn’t quite where he wants to be.”
Also like Mullen, Sims will have some extra work to do over the break to make up for lost time.
While Kostjasyn has been doing a lot of running since he linked up with the squad, until now his field work has been minimal.
“(At the end of the season) he had a little cleanout of his elbow, but he also had an abdominal hernia,” Ayoub said.
Monday marked his first full session with the group though, and he be will getting into the thick of things come January.
“He’s been chomping at the bit,” Ayoub said.
“His attitude has just been sensational and you wish you had 39 more of him.
“Once January comes around he will be fully integrated into the group.”
Ross’ reason for sitting out training recently is a little left of field, as last week he underwent surgery to have a pterygium removed from his eye.
This has prevented him from joining in contact sessions, although the flying utility back was eager to get back to training as soon as possible.
“He won’t be doing contact for at least another three weeks, but like Rory he wants to come in and do something,” Ayoub said.
“He came in off his own bat on Saturday when really shouldn’t have.
“We’re better off doing it in a controlled environment, so we’re certainly happy with where he’s at.
The Christmas break
It will be a well-deserved break for the players as they come off an extended period of heavy training, but a balance will have to be struck between relaxation and maintaining the standards that have been reached.
“The gains that we made over the last few months can really fall by the wayside if they don’t watch their diet and maintain their fitness levels,” Ayoub explained.
“Certainly we have some expectations on where they should be at when they return.”
The players have been provided with programs for their 13-day break to ensure that they stay on track for the return of pre-season on January 4.