Training in the NRL has changed. Technology, new strategies and a refreshed style have all contributed to the way that modern rugby league players train. Michael Ennis gives his account of what happens at Sharks training, during the regular season, and throughout the off-season.
"When I first started playing first grade, we just used to run kilometres, and more kilometres,"; says Michael Ennis. Why? "Because that's just what you did."
The game and its training methods have since moved on from then to a more rugby league-specific style. "Everything is short, fast, less rest, but real high-intensity and a lot of interval and shuttle training to get the body ready for what our game is.";
Data and statistics also play a large role in Ennis' training.
"Our high-performance guy at Cronulla, Andrew Gray, will come to us after looking at all our data from our latest game, or over the Summer after big, heavy training blocks. The GPS doesn't just measure how far you run. These days it can tell you how much load goes through each leg; whether you're favour one leg, the strength in each leg, the volume of the impacts you have when you do a contact session and what effect that has on your body. Then there's the basics of how far you've run and what speed you've run at.";
Spreadsheets of the data are given to each member of the team. Everything is tracked. "There's nowhere to hide anymore. The GPS technology brings a real honesty out in the group, which is great."; Ennis believes that it's even more valuable to work harder throughout the hot summer, particularly with less games being played.
"In the gym you're certainly trying to complete as much strength-building work as you can so that when the season comes around you have a really good base. When the season gets going, you're not always able to train at the intensity you do through the summer, due to the fact you're constantly trying to recover from the bumps and bruises you cop week in, week out while playing.";