Blues training hard for Super 14 and ELV’s



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Blues Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Harvey is looking forward to the start of the 2008 Super14 and in particular he is looking ahead at the South African leg.

The Blues go to South Africa very early in the campaign (rounds 2-4) and he wants the players to be ready for the extreme heat in unforgiving venues, such as Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.

“In the planning stages we are very much aware of the challenge. You get to South Africa, so there’s one week to recover from the travel, meaning the players don’t get the same training load as if you are in New Zealand,” Harvey says on the Blues website.

“The second week will be good, so we can ramp it up, and so too in the third week, but then you come back to New Zealand and the travel affects your training load again.

“At the end of the season it is not so much of an issue, but in our programming we are very aware we are going to lose two weeks training very early in the season. So we are trying to make that up now.”

To avoid any chance of boredom slipping into the squad due to repetitive training, Harvey has had the players working hard at some of Auckland’s most picturesque venues such as Bethels Beach, Mairangi Bay and Mt Eden.

“No matter how you box it up, it is always hard yards. As a trainer you are looking for different ways to present it, to avoid repetition and boredom. The key is to change the players’ outlook towards it so they can see why we are doing it,” Harvey says.

“We are going to finish off this Friday with the Fire Service obstacle course, which will be tough but also fun, and is a reward for finishing the three and a half weeks of training we have done.”

The introduction of Experimental Variation Laws (ELV’s) in next year’s competition is intended to create a faster game and to keep the ball in play more. That alone will increase the work load on the players and Harvey knows this.

“Individually the players are going to have to adapt a lot more skills under fatigue with decision making, and having to get back with the short-armed penalty,” Harvey says.

“The players will have a good fitness base, but with some individuals there will be a bit of a shock so we will concentrate on those individuals who need to be brought up to speed.

“We are fortunate to have the services of Byron Thomas as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. BT’s primary role is working with the medical team to ensure injured players are returned to the field as soon as possible. However, any players struggling with their fitness can from time to time find themselves in BT’s extra’s group.”

The Blues’ players have a two week break over Christmas and New Year but Harvey is confident they will not forget about their conditioning responsibilities.

“In the last couple of the years the players have made great strides. No one has come back and let us down. They know what is at stake and if they want to be selected then they need to return in a condition that allows that.

“There is a lot of competition for places – everyone is putting their hand up – so barring injury they need to turn up in the best shape they can.”

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