CASTLEFORD Tigers head coach Ian Millward has introduced a number of changes behind the scenes aimed at reducing the rate of injuries following the crippling list of casualties that brought a disappointing end to the club’s 2011 campaign.
Millward (pictured), a Grand Final and Challenge Cup winner with St Helens who is now into his second week of pre-season training with the Tigers, believes the changes will help his team go through next season in better shape.
He said: “It’s inevitable that injuries will happen, it’s a part of the game, but there are some that we can prevent by providing more support for the players in training and carrying out tests on the players’ bodies before each session to highlight any weaknesses.
“The club have supported me in this by allowing the recruitment of additional staff to the backroom team.
“Chris Black has joined us full time from Leeds Carnegie to assist James Parkes (head of athletic performance) in delivering our strength and conditioning programmes. Much of his role will be to manage the GPS tracking system which we are introducing to monitor how many kilometres the players are putting in, their thresholds and their heart rates.
“We also now have a full time chef who provides the players with breakfast and dinner before and during training.
“What the players are eating is vital in pre-season and having the players eat together at the club enables us to monitor their food intake. It also improves team spirit which is very important.”
A distinct change that Millward has introduced is the number of hours his players are training each day:
“The players report in for training at 7.30am and they are leaving here at around 3.30pm so that means they are with us for eight hours and that’s a much longer day than they are used to,” he said.
“It’s a long hard day but the guys are appreciating it because they understand that we are trying to develop their bodies and their game.”
Among the players to impress Millward in the early stages are the club’s three hookers, youngsters Adam Milner and Daryl Clark - who both signed new deals in recent weeks - and veteran Ryan Hudson who, despite speculation, remains firmly in his plans for the season ahead.
Millward said “All three are working together really well, Ryan with his experience and Adam and Daryl, they are who they are, both talented with different styles I’ve noticed straight away. We’ve got real depth there and I like to have a focus around the play-of the-ball area and to have three talented players in that position is a good place to be for the season.”