Shutdown slackers warned: You will get found out
Attention NRL players - if you didn't train hard enough during the shutdown, you will get found out and handed extras to catch up.
That is the message from Cronulla team manager Mark Noakes, who has also spent over a decade in the sports science space as a conditioner at the Sharks.
Noakes expects most players to return from the COVID-19 lockdown in decent physical condition minus match fitness from contact, but the screening test on day one will reveal all.
Relive classic NRL matches from the 60s to today on KAYO SPORTS. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Players are back at their clubs on Monday, with training expected to start again on Tuesday.
"The guys that didn't do anything will be left behind and it could jeopardise their spot in the starting 17," Noakes told The Sunday Telegraph.
"You can't go back to a pre-season format because you don't have the same amount of time to spend on players.
"There is only three weeks until the footy starts again, so anyone who is behind will have to do extras to catch the rest when everyone else has gone home for the day."
Noakes concedes training in isolation isn't as intense, and it's inevitable that it will lead to a drop in the players' fitness levels. He can also see the benefit of being forced to focus on fitness during the coronavirus lockdown.
"If anything, the players have probably been more active as all they can do is train," he said.
"Some of them have been training more than what they would have if it were just a normal week during the season.
"Of course, the players haven't done any contact, so that will be the main focus, along with the core skills."
Noakes believes Sharks players will also benefit from the competitive environment created during their online fitness tasks in isolation.
"Our guys have been posting what times they have been doing in our WhatsApp group," he said.
"They are all trying to beat each other and there is a bit of banter about it. We tried to make it fun for the players and as happy as it can be during this weird time."
Cronulla's usual fitness freaks like Chad Townsend, Connor Tracey and Blayke Brailey have stood out, but Noakes says there have been a few surprises.
"Someone like Andrew Fifita has a massive engine for a big bloke," he said.
"Andrew is also a bit different. He has to watch what he does because of his injuries. Some guys like him are on modified programs, so he plans his load so he isn't training every day.
"It isn't like the old days when you just kept running and running and expected that was how you were going to get fit."
Originally published as Shutdown slackers warned: You will get found out