Rads in USA Dec 2012 part 6
Conversation of the day:
Waney: What did you have for tea last night Mick ?
Mick Turner: ( our strength and conditioning coach) : Just Fajitas ( pronounced FA- JITAS)
Rads: Its not FA-JITAS Mick, it's FA-HITAS
Mick Turner: Sorry, I didn't realise I was sat with a table full of Cubans
Iestyn: They are Mexican Mick, not Cuban
The last day of the trip was left open with nothing scheduled for the training session. It was done, so that the coaches could assess what areas they needed to work on. All week they have been working on different elements and it was felt that it was time that they combined everything together to see where we were at. I have to say that the team looked vey slick. The new half back combination looked strong and commanding. The young kids never looked out of place and the experienced players were vocal. It was very pleasing for the coaches, it shows that everything they had been working on throughout the week had been a absorbed. You could tell that the players were pleased about it also, as they all has a spring in their step.
The last part of the session was planned and the players knew exactly what it was for.... The hill of death. It separated the training field from the athletics track and the players drove passed it everyday knowing that on the last day they would be spewing from the top of it. They split up into their three house teams and threw everything into the hill. Anything that was left in their legs from the weeks exertions was left on that hill. It was inspiring watching the effort that each and every player gave. All had their tops off in the Florida sun, there was six packs all over the places. Harrison did something that I has never seen before, being sick whilst running up a hill. That not because he was unfit, that's because he gave everything he had. At the end, the players embraced and thanked each other for their efforts. I like watching that. Away from family, friends and fans strong bonds are formed between men. They show a commitment to each other that is undoubtable. It is hard not to get excited about the new season as it is just under two months away but I am happy with the chemistry, honesty and style of the new squad.
The camp was a huge success. I reckon we got three weeks worth of training into ten days. We did the camp prior to Christmas so they we can adapt to the cold training throughout January in readiness for the new season. These camps have their doubters but I can assure anybody who has issues that the work done was of a high quality. The recovery was done with great thought. The spirit and understanding that is created by spending so much time with each other is immeasurable. The players were well behaved and respected the Wigan badge with honour, a badge that I am very protective of. We will go home for a few days of training before a well deserved Christmas break. January the 2nd 2013, the boys will report back for training with a new season almost upon us.
I know the We lost some big voices in the side from last season in Finch, Leuluai and Carmont but this is an opportunity for others to grow and stamp their authority on the side.
I expect big seasons from Richards and Farrell. Young Sam Powell will play significant minutes. If Anthony Gelling continues his focus from pre season, then I expect him to kick on. Jack Hughes will force his way into full international recognition. The experienced players of Tomkins, Hansen, O'loughlin, Mossop and Mcilorum will all continue to perform at a consistently high level... I am happy that as a club we are doing things right.
Stay with us folks, buy a home kit, buy the sexy new purple number, watch Wigan TV..... Together we are Wigan.
Rads in USA Dec 2012 part 5
My favourite conversation of the day:
Rads: Good morning Lance ( Lance Brauman is Tyson Gay's coach )
Lance: Good morning Kris, I hope you are well
Lance walks off
Waney: What did you call him then Rads?
Rads: Lance, why?
Waney: No wonder he has been looking at me funny, I have been calling him Hank all week!!!
I hope you are all well back in the UK, I believe it is cold back there. It has been a little overcast here for the last few days but it has been dry and humid so we can't complain.
As promised, an update from the MMA gym yesterday.
I found the Jungle MMA gym in downtown Orlando on the Internet a couple of years back. It is run by a couple of really great guys and when I approached them with the possibility of using their facility, they welcomed us with open arms.
The gym is located about 40 minutes from our homes but it is a welcomed drive as it is the opposite direction to which we travel every day and it gives the lads a chance to see other parts of the city. When you leave the i4 freeway to get to the gym, the surroundings change dramatically. There are no pictures of Mickey Mouse around here, just wanted posters of criminals and cash for gold shops. There is plenty to see though and is quite exciting. Dont get me wrong, you wouldn't catch me walking around after 9pm at night but there is an edge to the place that is brilliant. When we entered the gym, it was like we had never been away. The atmosphere of the place hadn't changed and was what I loved the most. It was no frills and although there was evidence of some slight improvements, it was still like a backstreet brawling gym.
The actual session was probably the most intense one of the trip. The players absolutely butchered each other. Friendships are left at the door when you enter this place. It is survival of the fittest in here. This is the way it should be. You show respect for your team mates by hitting him as hard as you can, if you don't, it shows weakness and that is something we don't need.
There were some intriguing match ups at the end of the technical stuff.
Hansen v Farrell
Logan v Mcilorum
Richards v Charnley
Hughes v Thornley
Lauaki v Flower
You could literally mop the testosterone up off the floor at the end.
When you put so much effort into a session, the feeling you get at the end of it is priceless. Grown men embrace and congratulate each other for their endeavours. There was a bit of blood and ripped clothes knocking about but it didn't matter, the spirit was outstanding. It must have been a real eye opener for the new players as they would have never experienced anything as raw and aggressive as this. We want to give our players the best and treat them to everything that can improve them but occasionally you need to strip everything back. This was real 'jumpers for goalposts' training were the fundamentals of our game were hit home...... Aggression-hitting hard-running hard-playing through pain....if you get these elements correct and then fine tune these with some knowledge and technique then you will have a winning formula.
Throughout the session I took loads of photos that you will see over the coming weeks. I took one of Sam in front of a famous Muhammed Ali quote that was plastered on the walls... " Champions aren't only made in gyms, they are made from something they have deep inside the, a desire , a dream, a vision ".... You can throw as many weights as you possibly can around but if you don't have that deep passion to improve, to do well, to prove people wrong, then you will not succeed. I went home and added a few effects to the photo before posting it on twitter. Hopefully some young kid will see it and see Sam in front and a fire inside will be ignited of them. Sam has all the elements that Ali was speaking about.... I may even get it blown up and put on my wall as it inspired me.....
Last blog of the trip tomorrow then bag to Gods little acre, Wigan
Rads in USA Dec 2012 Part 4
Hi guys, how are you all doing?
Let me update you on Florida progress. Massive day on Monday. The morning was split between weights and speed and then the groups change over. It was a nice morning at the Centre with the warm sun burning through the shallow cloud. We had been told that the afternoon was going to be a big storm so it was important that we got some quality work done. Iestyn and Deacs took the backs doing kicking and catching and Shaun took the forwards. The kicking drill really highlighted the skills of Matty Smith and Blake Green. They were technically outstanding and were striking the ball so sweetly. The forwards were beating each other up on one side of the field and the blacks were kicking and catching on the other, there is something not quite right about that!
Down on the sprint track the boys went through some hand eye co-ordination stuff with rugby and tennis balls. They also ran through some speed off the mark stuff. The first five yards in rugby league is so important as power and explosive energy is what the game is built on. Mr Lenagan was impressed at what he was seeing. The staff delivered good sessions and the players were focused.
Over lunch we reviewed the days training on video. In the main there was some good stuff on display. There was a particular drill that involved backs fielding grabbers and scoring tries. There was a bit of spilt ball as the players were not being fully committed to scoring the try as the importance of game day was not on them. This was not acceptable and Iestyn showed every error to the players to ask their thoughts. It was honest but fair.
With the season just over a month away, you need to start polishing up on every facet of you game. How you practice is how you ultimately play. When the situation presents itself on game day, there is a good chance the players who knocked on in training will knock on. The players left the meeting knowing that they are getting watched everyday and can't afford a day off. They shouldn't do it just because they are getting watched though, that should not be their motivation. Their motivation should be a desire to improve. Anyway, I am sure we will see a reaction.
After lunch we did a forty minute field session when the backs and forwards combined. It was a short but intense session, the chat over lunch certainly had an affect. After that it was triathlon time. I had contacted a local dude who loaned me some bikes. The boys were split into their house team and were timed over each discipline. I had named the house teams after famous Wigan landmarks, Wigan Pier, Uncle Joes and Central Park. It was just a way of showing people that rugby in this little town is more than rugby, it is tradition and culture, it is life.
The house that won was Central Park, led by Michael Mcilorum. The individual winner of the day though was Liam Farrell. He is a ridiculous athlete. Fit, fast and strong. Other people noticeable of a mention were Josh Charnley and Darrell Goulding. Josh had panic attack in the water (so he says). The one thing you don't do in our sport is show the boys you have a weakness or else they will pounce. Josh got no sympathy off the boys. They jeered and abused poor Josh and he was alone in the water. I bet this won't be on the next instalment of the Zak and Josh show!
Darrell carried on to finish the event even though he fell off his bike, removing a few layers of skin from his elbows and side. The rain that was predicted didn't let us down. Wiggo would have been proud of Darrell's tumble. It was a hard event and every player gave everything but i also think they enjoyed it. It is important that you mix things up and vary training.
The next day was a day off. We are working a 4 day on/1 day off/4 day on camp. Recovering well and relaxing is important. The day off gives players time to fuel up and get there bodies right again. If you work constantly for ten days, it will have adverse effects. Getting the balance right is what our Head of Performance, Mark Bitcon, is great at. Everyday is discussed at length to ensure we are getting the desired outcome.
On the day off we drove down to Miami beach. It was a fair drive but the players decided that they wanted to see the place and welcomed the road trip. I want lads to experience different places and meet different people. We are trying to improve them as players but also as people. When they leave here, whenever that may be, we want that guy to be equipped for whatever life throws at them. Miami is a pretty cool place. The lads walked around staring at the beautiful people and you could tell that they loved it. They caused a bit of a scene themselves. We have a team full of rigs ripped to the bone. As Miami is a very body conscious town, the players fitted right in. They hired bikes and rode for miles, played volleyball, sipped coffee and generally chillaxed. It was a great recovery day.
On the way back I arranged tickets for the NBA as Orlando Magic were playing the Atlanta Hawks. Once again, a brilliant spectacle when the game was secondary. There was too much for my eyes to take in. It is all about enjoyment of the night with the result of the game not important.... It is a strange concept and one that I struggle with. It not about supporting the team, it's about supporting the business. Not once did I hear any abuse thrown at the ref or any opposing player. It was not win at all cost, infact Orlando lost but there was no crowd resentment. Every fan left the ground happy. That is so weird.... I would love Wigan fans thoughts on that.
Anyway my next update will include my favourite session of the year to watch........The MMA gym.... The thought of it will make the boys sick. I am gonna get up close and personal with my camera, so close that when they are sick on the floor, you will be able to feel the splash!!! That's revolting, I'm sorry!
Rads in USA Dec 2012 Part 3
One month, twenty two days, twelve hours, 36 minutes and 50 seconds to kick off against Salford.
Update on tan... The latte coloured that I suggested has now moved to a hot vimto colour, man it was hot out yesterday.
Quote of the day. Dom Crosby " how many quarters do they play in the NFL Rads?"
Ok, let me fill you in on what's been happening.
Day 2 of training was a grueller. Weights, skills, video meeting, skills/conditioning then extras. It was an 8am start and a 4pm finish. That is a long day when you're legging around in 80 degree heat, but there was no complaining. Although the day before was a good hit out at training, it probably lacked the quality that the coaches were after. It was a typical first session when all the group get back together, with timings a little bit off and concentration down. The second session however was a huge improvement. Enthusiasm and skill levels were immense. The only real problem in the session was the fact that some red haired dude with a camera was trying to get up close and personnel and kept getting in the way.... Bothered, not. They have a superb outdoor swimming pool at the facility out here and there is nothing better than jumping in and cooling down at the end of each session in there, especially when you have been flogged.
There is a good feeling amongst the group and when you all put all your efforts into a day, the commaradship of the boys grows strong. You can sense at the end of each day that people are getting closer and the new players are integrating well.
Straight after training, myself Waney and Guru Bitcon, drove to the airport to pick up the Chairman, Ian Lenagan. Once again it is a huge effort from him. The flight is 9 hours and he will be here for 2 days. This is not just to check up on his investments and the how the staff are performing, this is because he cares about the club and he wants to feel part of the team, which he is. He doesn't have to allow us to come out he and train. He does it as he trusts his staff and if we justify our reasons/benefits of doing so, then he will back us. It is so important to have this kind of support.
Once we picked him up, we nipped into a local eatery and grabbed a quick meal. It is good to get him in this relaxed environment when there are no distractions. He was on top form and he filled us in with his thoughts/plans. In order to accommodate him in our villa, I had to make some rearrangements.
I had to evict Waney out of his luxury en suite and put him in with the vain Guru. In order to put Waney in there, I had to evict Russ, our video guy out of the guru's twin room. That meant I needed to find space for Rusty. I arranged for a bed to be delivered and moved Rusty to a small lounge, where he slept away, happy as Larry.
It is important that people show co-operation as these trips are hard to run. My little mate Rusty helped me out or else the chairman would be in a motel!!
The morning after it was an early start, 7:30 heavy weights session followed by swim. We had planned a small skill session, but listened to feedback from the players who pulled up a little sore from the monster day the day before. It is important to listen to your players. They are an honest group and if they say that they have heavy legs, we will listen. There is no point not listening as you will lose quality and then the gains are not made.
When training was completed, I had arranged for some footlong subs to be delivered then we hit the highway as we were going Tampa to watch the NFL. This is the second time that we have been up to the NFL, it is a great experience and one that we are lucky to witness (the players actually pay for the tickets themselves). It is a tremendous day out and the actual game is secondary to the entertainment. People turn up hours before the game to soak everything up. They are not waiting for kick off.... Kick off comes at its own pace as. The day is about enjoyment, family and friends. The game only adds to the day out.
Fireworks, a military flyover, USA flag unveiled, cheerleaders, bands, reunions, fan of day.... It has it all. It is cheesy but a wonderful show. I stood there proudly singing the American anthem sung by some American Idol winner. Do you know what though, the game let the day down... I don't just mean the quality of the game, I mean the sport in general. I appreciate the athletes on display and I appreciate the skills that they possess but for 'seat on the edge of your seat, thrilling entertainment', it rated five out of ten. I had no problem nipping to the toilet a few times or for a turkey leg as I was sure that I wouldn't miss much. The unbelievable plays come very infrequently.
The half time show was glitzy and it was the anniversary of the 2002 Tampa winning Super Bowl team, so they were paraded but I tell you what would have been better........Wigan v Saints/Warrington/Leeds for ten minutes and watch them beat each other up, that's entertainment.
What we are doing currently is not working, it is not attracting new audiences and the game is not growing. The same questions are being asked now as they were ten years ago. Let's take a gamble and approach some sporting occasion where there is a ready made audience and show them what we have to offer... When you watch a league game up close and personal, you appreciate how hard it is...
These NFL guys looked like Greek gods in all their armoury but it you put some of our players in the same gear, they would look equally as imposing. We need to think outside the box. What can take our game up to the next level? What will attract big sponsors? What do fans want from a day at the game? Is it about your team winning or about a fan forgetting the world for a while by escaping to their happy place? So many questions need answering. I loved the day, I really did but the actual game will not stay long in my memory.
Slightly frustrated Rads, I am gonna see if Waney wants a wrestle!
Rads in USA Dec 2012 Part 2
One month, 24 days, 12 hours, 46 minutes and 10 seconds to the kick off of Super League 2013 (has the league got a sponsor yet?)
A really good day yesterday out here.
It was a full day that blew a few cob webs away. It was slightly overcast first thing and that worried the boys a bit but it shouldnt have, when it was time to start, it was sunny and hot (about 80 degrees I reckon) I apologise if that annoys you as I believe that it is pretty cold back home currently. The real positive news is that after my family holiday, my trip to Dubai and the sun out here, I have finally got a suntan for the first time in my life. I am not talking golden brown, more like a weak latte colour... But I am delighted with the progress of my skin.
On the training front yesterday, we covered a lot. The morning was split between prehab, speed and weights... It was to see all the boys together again. You could see that they were enjoying each others company. Blake Green and Scott Taylor look like they have been here a while. Blake and Matty Smith look like they have have struck up a great friendship which is important. They must live in each others pockets and learn to think a like and understand how each view the game. This won't happen overnight, but it has started really well and I know the coaches are happy.
This week will see the international players back training for the first time. It is a tough one for these players as they will have only had 4 weeks off before the madness starts again. It is not ideal but we dont really have an option. We need to get the desired amount of work into them before game one, or else the players are starting the season undercooked.
The training centre is based on a medical campus. We head over to the cafeteria everyday for lunch. Today it was pulled pork and coleslaw, with BBQ beans and macaroni cheese.... It couldn't get more American but I have to say that it was awesome.
After lunch, the eating room transformed into our meeting room and the players fell suddenly silent as they knew what was coming. For 6 weeks since our semi-final defeat against Leeds, Waney has been desperate to get in front of the boys to ask a few questions. It has been burning away inside of him dying to get out. It was time for some honesty. Waney put some pressure on some individuals and they responded well. He then went through what he thinks is acceptable and the things he will most definitely not accept. I can tell you that the players left that room completely in agreement on what needs to be done.
We then went on the field for a rugby session. It was scorchio Armani out there, perfect for some quality skill work. It was a contact/skill session and the players didn't hold back. There was sweat bursting into the sky upon collision, like when Rocky hits Clubber Lang.... As I mentioned yesterday, trips like this divide opinion, but it is when you see work like this being done that you fully know that it is the right decision. There are no beach balls here. The players know they are here to work. You can understand that better when you hear them communicate with each other, it's all about rugby.
After the recovery swim, it was straight back to the houses. I then collected a couple of players from each house to take them on their weekly shop. They will be cooking a fair bit themselves this year so they need to shop wisely... I gave them their allowance and then set them free to roam the ailes. I really look forward to this. Let me tell you some of the stranger purchases.
Prescott..... A mop
Taylor...... Tin foil ( he actually packed a calculator to control costs)
Logan Tomkins.... Air freshner
Jack Hughes..... Hoover bags
I will report back tomorrow on what they cooked.
Any questions, tweet me @krisradlinski1
Rads in USA Dec 2012 Part 1
Hello guys, how have you all been? Its been a while since we spoke!
Welcome back to my USA blog.
I got some good feedback last year so I am glad to do it again.
My objective is to keep you in the picture as to what is going on out here. I will give you interesting insights and attempt to inform you as to what the players are doing. I want you to feel part of it. I want you to get you excited for the coming season which at this moment is one month, twenty five days, thirteen hours, thirty five minuets and twenty seconds away to kick off in our opening game against Salford.
Trips like these have their critics. They feel as though we should be at home training in the cold. One of my aims is to prove that this is not a jolly boys outting. This is hard, productive and intensive. Months of planning have gone in to ensure the correct amount of technical, physical and mental aspects are all covered.
The staff have fully reviewed the 2012 season and lists have been compiled of the things we did well and things we did not so well. Last year we did a lot if good stuff. We finished top of the league with the best defence and the best attack.
Unfortunately, our performances in the big games let us down. This has also been looked at also. Why is it that we froze on the big stage? There will be some tough discussions had with the players as to why this happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.
The stats suggest that we should have walked away with a Grand Final winners ring, but sport doesn't work like that. Form, understanding, enjoyment and league positions only get you so far. In the big games it is all about who wants it more. Who is prepared to do that little bit extra. Who has a deep desire to win, which all champion teams have. We are putting a bit more back on the players this year. They will have to fend for themselves and work together to maintain their houses and to feed each other.
It has been a while now since I have seen the players. I worked for five weeks while they had their break and then I took a family holiday before heading out to Dubai with the JJ squad. I had missed being around the boys but I doubt it will take me long to get annoyed with them again.
It is 5:30am now and I am wide awake.
I picked them up from the airport last night. I arrived a couple of days ago to ensure the venues had our timetables, menus and that everything would run smoothly for when the players arrive. One thing I have learned about dealing with these lot is that if something is not right, even a tiny little thing, they will pounce.... Especially the likes of Tomkins and Mossop.
My prediction about players annoying me was correct. Charnley asking me 'are we nearly there yet' , all the way from the airport pressed my angry buttons . His cards are marked. Other than that, it was a quiet night. Quick bite to eat at a local restaurant (I was sat next to the above mentioned Charnley, worst luck), then houses for bed time.
Full day today. Will update you tomorrow.