SUPER League leaders Warrington Wolves, through their coach Tony Smith (pictured), a keen squash enthusiast, have twice visited Pontefract Squash Club recently for a morning’s squash training as a break from their normal routine.
Last week James and Malcolm Willstrop, former Pontefract player and National coach David Campion and club owner Mick Todd visited Warrington’s training ground at Chester University to watch the Warrington players training.
There is no shortage of star names in the Warrington ranks. They include Adrian Morley, Lee Briers, Brett Hodgson, Michael Monaghan and Matt King.
By 8.45 am when the Pontefract contingent arrived they were all hard at work in the gym.
Activity was interchanged frequently between the running track, the field and the lecture theatre, so that the players’ interest was maintained and what stood out was what a happy and cohesive team they are as amid the serious stuff there was much fun and laughter.
Former Leeds Rhinos player Willie Poching conducted the on field training and Tony Smith, apart from educating his Pontefract visitors, was happy to leave everything in the hands of his staff whilst he kept a general eye on things.
With the important matter of last Friday’s big match with Leeds Rhinos the focus of the training, the players moved into the lecture theatre where there was now no doubt who was in charge.
Players were invited to contribute and did, as videos of Warington and Leeds were examined and strengths and weaknesses identified.
There was no talk of winning and losing, only performance.
National coach David Campion, often at Pontefract nurturing the talents of Sam Todd, Ellen Cooper and Layla Johnson, was deeply impressed as was Mick Todd.
James Willstrop has watched Tony Smith in action whilst at Leeds and remained fascinated and Malcolm Willstrop was at Headingley to watch the implementation of the training and the dismantling of Leeds on Friday when the Wolves won 42-6.
Rugby league and squash have common factors. They are both heavily demanding on the body at high levels, even though squash players do not take the hits.
When world number one Nick Matthew played James Willstrop in an epic match at Canary Wharf, Matthew ran 14 miles during the game.
The top players in both the sports remain unassuming and approachable and conduct themselves for the most part in an acceptable manner which is an example to children, something not all sports can say.
Not that proof was needed but the day and the ensuing result on Friday were ample proof of the degree of professionalism required nowadays and illustrates that nothing Warrington Wolves do is left to chance.
James Willstrop, David Campion, Simon Parke,Vanessa Atkinson and squash playing friends undertook the 150 mile bike ride from Whitehaven to Newcastle this week in aid of Candlelighters, the children’s cancer charity and H.E.R.Breast Friends.
The final amount raised will almost certainly reach five figures.