Club talk

Training ground update #5

And if ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it
And think of the summers of the past
Adjust the base and let the alpine blast
Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme
And put your car on cruise and lay back cause this is summertime
 
Summer summer summertime
Time to sit back and unwind

Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh PrinceSummertime

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It was all too easy to sit back and unwind yesterday  – at least it was for myself and Quent as we watched Nick Walshe put the senior Cov players through their paces on what was hot and fairly humid July morning over at the Summerhill Lane training ground.

It was another punishing session for the squad though, one that was as physical as it was energetic and as the weeks go by, so the hits get harder and the intensity that much greater. Looking on from the sidelines, you get the distinct impression that the pre-season games can't come soon enough both for the players and coaches.<!–more–>

And the good news is that Rowland Winter appear very pleased at the way things are currently progressing, with Cov probably a couple of weeks or so ahead of most National One teams as far as training is concerned, with the exception of Plymouth who started around the same time as us.

Players came back probably ahead of where the coaches thought they might be after the break, certainly in terms of their general fitness levels/weight and so on. And, unlike last season, there hasn't been the need for nearly so many players to familiarise themselves with the club, its expectations or, indeed, each other, thus taking valuable time out of training just to settle in.

Just 11 or twelve newcomers this season against the mid 20s 12 months ago…and that makes a significant difference.
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And if ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it
And think of the summers of the past
Adjust the base

Sound advice and something that is very much true of Cov at the moment – we finished strongly at the end of last season and it looks very much to me as if what the coaches are looking to do is use the experience and quality that they have brought into the club over the close season to ‘adjust the base’ rather than make wholesale changes –

Monday training is slightly different to that of Tuesdays and Thursdays  in that it only includes the ‘full-time’ players, so those who also hold up a job as well as play for Cov aren’t available. It’s usually supplemented by the inclusion of a number of academy players from the ‘gold’ group, together with the odd trialist –  which makes it all the more interesting because they tend to stand out a little more simply because there are fewer players involved.

The focus yesterday seemed to be defence/attack for the most part, especially defence, with the players breaking every 20 minutes or so to do some intense work with Max Hartman, following the all-important water breaks…the photos below will give you an idea of what was involved.

At this point, I should mention that the better photos below are those taken by Quent Melhuish, to whom I am intensely grateful for allowing me to include them in this post. I haven’t quite got the hang of my new camera and managed to take most of the photos yesterday on the ‘macro’ setting, hence the reason I haven’t included too many of my own 🙂 !

Despite the fact it was no more than a standard training session, there were one or two bone crunching hits out there which were greeted with plenty of appreciation from the nearby players. You can always tell how tough a session is by the number of expletives used – I’m sure it would be possible to generate a formula to calculate the intensity of a particular training session based purely on the frequency of  certain words used.

I guess it would look something like:

Intensity of training is proportional to:  1 divided by the number of expletives squared, multiplied by the duration of the session (time)

or:

I ∝ 1/e2 *t

or maybe not.

That said, the intensity in training is certainly greater than it was back in early June and I’m sure it will be less than the final week leading up to the Hull game in September.

As you would expect, there are some players who are far more vocal on the pitch than others in this respect, although I remain surprised just how much calling out amongst the players goes on, especially in defence  – that’ s particularly true of the senior players who were constantly giving positional advice throughout yesterday session. That was especially noticeable…

Phil Nilsen spoke on a couple of occasions to the whole group, usually at the end of a mini-session and it is already clear that those around him at going to benefit greatly from having a player who has performed so consistently and at such a high level over so many seasons. It already seems to be having an impact on the likes of Scott Tolmie who looks a lot fitter this season. Indeed, he even stayed out to do some extra work once the session had finished. I might be wrong here, but Rowland Winter said at the last Fans’ Forum that Scott and Matt Price hadn’t really had the competition needed at hooker last season – this time around, perhaps Phil Nilsen’s arrival will add something to certainly Scott’s game, if not Matt’s as well.

Of the players present yesterday, there continues to be  good news as far as injuries are concerned. Tom Jubb has got the go ahead to start training again, albeit on a phased return and Tom Wheatcroft seems to be continuing to make progress following what looks to be a slight problem with his back. Tom J was doing some work with the gloves and Tom W was on an exercise bike – and both were worked extremely hard by Max Hartman’s rehab team. Neither seem to have a long term problem and should be back in the thick of training fairly shortly.

And talking of training, Will Maisey has really stepped up his own fitness training to another level with the completion of his first triathlon.  Huge respect to Will…he kindly agreed to let me use a couple of photos of the event in the blog…

There was one other anecdote attached to Will’s triathlon which is worth sharing…Will was well-beaten by his mother-in-law who overtook him on the first lap of the cycling stage and wasn’t seen again until the finish.

Nice one, Will. Tactical surely…? Long term that would seem a very wise move to me…

Will is a great sport and gent with it…he’s even offered me a lift to the station in the past (declined, though, as I’m undergoing my own triathlon at the moment…a walk to and from the station, with a bag of crisps and a donut on the way).

There were a couple of other interesting snippets that came out of the session…

One involves the pace the club now has in the backs.

Kwaku Asiedu – pace and power out on the wing

Last season Max Trimble and James Stokes showed the benefit of having players who can put on the after-burners and leave defences for dead every now and again, as well as being strong in defence.  I think we all felt that was something that might have been lacking at times in Phil Maynard/Scott Morgan’s final season in charge. Well, the good news is that James S and Max T have been relegated to 3rd and 4th in the speed stakes following the arrival of James Neal and Kwaku Asiedu.

Both the youngsters (‘gold’ Academy players) outstripped James and Max, with James Neal the quickest of the quartet. The most frightening thing of all, at least for the opposition, is that Kwaku is carrying a slight hamstring injury and probably wasn’t flat out. For those of you yet to see the youngsters, Kwaku looks like he’d be comfortable in the middle of the back row…he’s a big lad!

Both James Neale and Kwaku Asiedu might not yet be quite ready to play first team rugby,but, training as they are with the full squad, they will benefit immensely from working with the senior players and it’s good to know the club has such players in reserve should injuries, loss of form or just the need to rest mean that they are required to make the step up. It’s exactly what the Academy was set up to provide…great stuff.

Having seen Kwaku at the Olney 7s, his size and speed will make him a player to be feared whether he’s playing Zoo League or even National One and it’s that sort of strength in depth that makes the next two or three seasons such an enticing prospect for Cov supporters who up to now have missed out on enjoying seeing youngsters and reservists develop their games to the point where they can break into the first team squad . Indeed, with the Development Squad looking to play the same brand of attacking/entertaining rugby as the senior players, those Zoo League fixtures will be well worth getting to the ground early for.

The second snippet was more information really and concerns the Jersey game. Last season we used just 22 players against the Channel Islanders compared to their 27 – and it was no surprise that we struggled in the second half. Whilst they were the better side by a distance, we weren’t helped by a having fewer players to call on in the second half when the pressure was beginning to tell. This time around, we’ll be taking numbers similar to those used by Jersey last season and with the added strength and experience we have, that should mean we’ll be able to compete that much better in the final quarter of the game. Jersey finished fifth last season and will be just as strong as last year – in theory it will be the toughest game of the season physically, although psychologically the likes of Plymouth and Moseley in the League, with so much at stake, will ask just as many questions of Cov perhaps.

So just two weeks or so remain to the first game of the season, albeit made up of 3*30 minutes sessions, against Leicester Lions (away) on the 3rd August. Still plenty to enjoy before then, though,  with the ‘Meet the Players’ afternoon on Saturday at the BPA, the announcement of a couple of new signings (hopefully) before the Leicester game and a couple more training sessions still to attend.

Summer summer summertime
Time to sit back and unwind

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The following photos are all courtesy of Quent  – if we haven’t got an official photography then Cov should snap him up…

..too good to resist, sorry.

 

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The rest are mine…taken with the ‘macro’ setting on! giphy3And then only the one’s that were barely acceptable… 🙂 !

 

 

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This one’s for Sam…three programmes blighted my late 30s/early 40s…Brothers Garcia, Malcolm in the Middle and The Fresh Prince of Bel-air. They seemed to be one all day, every day and most of the weekend as well.

‘Summertime’ is from The Fresh Prince…at least Will Smith went on to make something of his acting/music career afterwards.

 

 

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