It has been back to reality for the Warriors this week as the
team endured a 'Mad Monday' of a different kind.
The players reported for the first day of pre-season training
at the start of the week and there has been more grimacing
than grinning about being back to work.
Pre-season training is notoriously punishing at the best of
times but it is no surprise to learn, after last year's
disastrous NRL campaign, the players have been pushed
particularly hard over the past few days.
"Tired and sore," was how prop Jacob Lillyman described the
collective camp. "Yesterday morning I could barely get out of
bed - my calves were that sore. That's all part of the first
week, that's what you expect. But they're certainly not
taking it easy on us."
With a new coaching staff, including a revamped strength and
conditioning department, keen to make an impression on the
players there were no warm welcomes on Monday morning.
"Monday was a bit of a shock to the system - there was no
easing into it," Lillyman said. "I think the coaching staff
are making a bit of a statement there. We certainly hit the
ground running and I guess that set the tone for the whole
As a 10-year veteran in the NRL, Lillyman has been through
his fair share of gruelling training sessions, designed to
ready the body for the rigours of one of the most demanding
competitions in world sport. He was loathe to compare this
pre-season with others - as if recalling the horrors was too
much to bear - but did say there was one main different this
"Every pre-season is tough but the thing that sets this one
out is the pure volume. We're doing four or five sessions a
day. We get in at 7.30am and we don't get home till 5pm. Very
long days and that's what this pre-season's going to be
"We know we've got a lot of work to do and we're going to
That was work has perhaps been amplified in this season's
preparation considering the year the Warriors have just
experienced. After losing a succession of leads, questions
were raised over whether the team was fit enough, but
Lillyman thought the explanation was more mental tiring than
"That's been bandied around a bit but I don't fully agree
with the notion that we weren't fit enough. I think it was
more a mental thing last year. We still worked hard in the
pre-season and the boys were ready to go.
"There were a lot of factors that went into [last season]. It
was just a disappointing year all around. Hopefully this year
we can make amends."
One man hoping the help the Warriors do just that is former
player Ruben Wiki, who has moved from part-time to a fulltime
strength and conditioning role. Lillyman said, even though
his work-outs have been especially taxing, Wiki was the
perfect man for the job.
"It's good for him to be back in the club. He's a legend of
the game. He's done what we could only dream of, he's got a
lot of respect among the boys. So when he says do something,
you don't argue, you just get in and do it."