8th August 2018, 11:55
Q+A with Eagles Strength and Conditioning coach Simon Vardy
As the Eagles prepare for their Championship Shield opener against Leigh Centurions, Dan Fowler caught up with Strength and Conditioning coach Simon Vardy to recap the regular season.
DF: We have got to the Shield and the club are six points clear of the relegation zone. From a fitness point of view, how do you think the lads have done this year?
SV: "I think they have done pretty well to be honest. We have quite a small squad and the majority have been playing week-in, week-out, so they have got that match fitness and have maintained that quite well,"
"That means it (fitness) hasn’t necessarily been a massive focus for us, like our normal field training sessions, which is handy because we can spend more time on a couple of different areas.
"That isn’t to say we haven’t given them the odd run-around to keep their fitness up.
"They seem to be doing quite well and as it’s my first year working with the guys, I’ve brought in a couple of slightly different approaches which may have potentially contributed to keeping them fresher in some respect.
"They are doing alright given the fact so many are playing week-in, week-out, and doing big minutes too."
DF: We have had quite a few injuries which started with Nabil Djalout, who is out for the season, and more recently with Jake Spedding and Ryan Millar. When that happens, do you see others try to step up a gear?
SV: "To an extent you do. What I am tending to see is people asking more questions on what they need to do to break into some of the spots,"
"Particularly when you’ve got guys (who are injured) like Ryan and Speds who have contributed a lot, there is a lot of questions from the lads in terms of what they need to do to get to that level and into those spots.
"The problem that we have, in those positions out in the backs, we don’t have the same depth as we do for some of the other positions where we have a few more who are competing.
"There’s a few guys in there who essentially have to step over from different areas to fill the gaps. There’s always those guys who are doing a little extra, stepping in and making sure we are not at a loss from losing those (who are injured)."
DF: Over the course of the regular season, we have had to face full-time teams like Leigh, London and Toronto. How do we try to bridge that gap as much as possible?
SV: "That’s a very difficult thing to do as you know and I think the guys have to take a lot of responsibility for themselves,"
"We have Tuesdays and Thursdays where we spend the majority of the time with the guys and Fridays when we have the run-through.
"But Tuesday nights are the only scheduled specific strength and conditioning session where they’ll come in and do their weights around the field and training session.
"We have that specific session but outside of that it’s down to the guys to do the extras that they need to be doing.
"You’ll find a lot of the guys come down to the S+C run at the university gym, where I work as well as at the Eagles, so I see them dropping in during the week to do extras.
"It’s difficult for a lot of them to schedule that in around work.
"It’s a very different environment to try and fit things in around that part-time role in comparison to the full-time sides.
"With that smaller contact time, it means we have to be more descriptive in terms of saying what we’ll be working on in the session and what they need to do outside of that to complement it."
DF: The lads who have come in from Saints are in a full-time environment. Do you see them passing things on to others in the squad despite being the youngest in there?
SV: "You do to an extent, you see that different element to their training when they come in,"
"They’re used to that full-time environment, used to training constantly.
"We won’t necessarily see them when we have our conditioning sessions but when we see them on the Thursdays and Fridays, they’re ready to come in and crack on with everything.
"It’s kind of setting a little bit of an example to the rest of the guys, where they could be at if they did the extras or pushed themselves a little further.
It’s interesting to see the difference in dynamics, how they fit into the team.
"What I tend to find quite interesting is how the guys react to people coming in, only training the Thursdays and Fridays and then playing at the weekend and how that slots into the psychological side of training and competition and how our guys take that.
"I think they take it on very well and see the Saints lads as a bit of an aspiration to what they could get to.
"They’re not ones who are enforcing things and saying what they think the Eagles-contracted players should be doing.
"They are down to earth, they fit in and get on with it and that’s good to see."
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman