Saracens players may be away on International tours, or enjoying a well-earned break after such a long gruelling season, but Performance Director Phil Morrow is already planning for the 2013/14 season and the he explained what the players could be expecting upon their return on July 1.
“Initially, the focus is just on getting the strength levels back up and increasing the players work capacity on their return,” revealed Morrow, the former IRFU Head of Fitness
“They’ll usually do four gym sessions; a couple of tough conditioning sessions and some light skills work
“We try to take a sensible approach; we try to build it up gradually over the first four weeks. The first four weeks have a huge strength and conditioning basis, we look to build up the players’ strength and fitness in that period with a little bit of rugby alongside that.”
With Saracens having 11 players away on international duty this summer, Morrow explained how every player has a four week rest period.
Morrow, who joined Saracens in October 2011, believes that the four week period is imperative for the players going forward into what he thinks will be another demanding season.
“We have four main groups; the main group is back on the July 1st. They consist of the mainly the younger guys and those who didn’t go on international tours; our England and Wales players come back on the 15th of July, so they get four weeks off after their respective tours. Then the Samoan, Scottish and US players come back the week after, the 22nd of July the finally our Lions players come back on the 5th August.
“Everyone has four weeks rest and recuperation as it is a pretty demanding season. Their recovery time is important as we want them to be fresh coming into the following year.”
Morrow added: “Towards the end of July there is a subtle shift towards the rugby side of things, and that is increased slightly with the contact levels being upped as the season gets closer and closer.
“The focus is to try and sharpen the players up and we take into account the fatigue they will have after all the hard work they have done during July.”
Morrow is well versed in preparing teams for pre-season training after previously holding strength and conditioning and high performance roles at Ulster Rugby and the Ireland national side; and he believes that the pre-season preparation has changed since he first started out.
“I think pre-seasons have improved dramatically over the years, I think this is my 14th pre-season with a professional rugby team and they’ve definitely changed.
“When we started out we used to just flog players; professionalism was still in its infancy in the sport, and I suppose we didn’t know what we were doing as much as we do now. But now we monitor the players a lot more closely and we try to make it more specific for what they have to do during the games.
“We don’t just do needless running for long periods anymore, we try to encourage conditioning games whilst doing skill work in a rugby controlled environment, and that’s how we want to achieve intensity in training.
“Well then use the pre-season games not only to get the rugby side right, in terms of our patterns, combinations and moves, but they are also there as conditioning sessions as we build-up to the start of the season.”