Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
25 hours ago
More entries from Anthony Seibold's training camp blog as the Celtic Crusaders tour of Queensland continues.
Entry number 6 - Friday 5th December 2008
We had another interesting day today with a mixture of sessions specific to the players position and specific needs. Once again there was no time for a sleep in as the first skills session began at 6.45am at Griffith University and we had some media in attendance. The Crusaders using Brisbane as a pre season training base has caused much interest amongst the Rugby League public in and around Brisbane and we have had all sorts of people come to observe our sessions. The Courier Mail (Queensland's leading newspaper) were at training to write a feature article for the Saturday edition of the publication. The journalist Steve Ricketts, a leading writer on Rugby League in the Australian press was very impressed with the quality of player we have recruited from the NRL for 2009. A specific example of an individual player's needs is Steve Tyrer. Steve has all the skills and abilities in the world when he has the footy in hand. He has talent to burn as has been seen in his games with St Helens and also at his stint with Widnes. One area of improvement we have identified is head lead and contact zones when defending. In order to assist with his progress and development we put him in the ring for five rounds of two minutes against Chris McCullen, the Australian Junior Welterweight Champion yesterday at the Griffith Uni Boxing club. Steve really dug in as his opponent was fast, powerful and had plenty of ability, and Steve showed his power and attitude as he stuck to the task. It wasn't a session for the faint hearted and Steve earned respect from all by his attitude in getting into the ring. Steve got a lot of confidence out of the session and this type of activity has a positive transfer when taking that contact into defending in Rugby League. Another specific example was this afternoon's anaerobic testing of forwards. Thibault has developed a specific test suited to the big men in Rugby League and identifies the players attributes and aptitude for the specific requirements of a Rugby League forward. Today finished with some fitness games before the players had a free night with many making their way to the movies at the local cinemas. We have been fortunate in our relationship with the Brisbane Broncos is strong. The Broncos Marketing Manager Marty Rowan, a great guy and friend of mine organised free movie tickets for the players and it was much appreciated by all who attended. Saturday morning brings us an opportunity to play some games against the Wynnum Seagulls Queensland Cup squad and this will be an opportunity for the players to test their abilities in some small sided games under a competitive nature.
Following this the players have an opportunity courtesy of Marty Rowan of the Broncos again to attend the Doomben Races. Doomben is a famous Horse racing venue in Australia and it is an chance for the players to bond in an environment away from the training pitch and away from Rugby League. We are all looking forward to a break this weekend, we have Saturday afternoon and Sunday off training, as this week has been a tough transition for all.
The success of this week has been the camaraderie and desire shown by the squad. It bodes well for the following weeks preparation leading into our historic first Super League season. It is exciting times for all involved at the Crusaders.
Entry number 7 - Sunday 7th December 2008
On Saturday morning we travelled to Wynnum Manly to train with and against new Brisbane Broncos Feeder team, the Queensland Cup side Wynnum Seagulls. Shane McNally, the former Wakefield Coach and 2004 Super League Coach of the Year is in charge at Wynnum and gave us some of his views on Super League and the tough nature of the competition.
The session was one of the hardest and most competitive of the week. It started with some small sided games like offside touch rugby where we broke into three groups of eight players and played against the Wynnum squad who broke into similar groups. It was good for our guys to hear some different voices. We then went into an opposed session of semi-contact full field rugby and had the opportunity to put into practice some of the scenarios covered in the first week of training. The session was intense and as rugby players do, became very competitive with the contact getting harder and harder. The boys had earned a day and a half off after a demanding first week. In the afternoon the Brisbane Broncos had organised for our squad to spend a day at the Doomben Races in Brisbane. The afternoon started well when Josh Hannay got a red hot tip from a friend so a number of the guys jumped on with the bookies and there were many high fives as the horse come home down the straight to finish first past the post which was a great start. A good time was had by all and the bond within the group shone throughout the afternoon. Sunday was a day of regeneration and recovery with many players opting for a swim and a movie. "Four Seasons" was the choice by many and the flick got a good review by the boys. Definitely one for the festive season. On Monday morning the hard work begins again as the clock ticks down to February 6.
Entry number 8 - Monday 8th December 2008
The hard work began again this morning as the first of three sessions got under way in the early morning heat here in Brisbane. Over the weekend, two further original Crusaders came into camp and met with the current players. Original 2006 Captain Michael Ryan and Ryan Barton greeted the boys at the Brisbane Races and it was great to see the old and the new mix. Our accommodation here has been first class and the boys have been very impressed with both facilities and the food on the menu. The Comfort Inn & Suites, Robertson Gardens who are our hosts are not new to hosting elite rugby league teams. The Canberra Raiders held there pre season camp in 2007 and more recently both the England Academy and the Queensland Academy of Sports teams have based themselves on site. The players are in rooms of three in self contained villas and these have been ideal in meeting our needs. Our meals are catered for in the restaurant and this has been ideal in our preparation as meals can be monitored, portion sizes controlled and catered for each individual's needs. A pool is also on site as is an ice bath and our recovery needs are met post training with ease and has been the saviour for many at the end of a hard days work on the pitch.