Former Wigan and Warriors rugby league captain Dean Bell
(left), with former Otago and Scotland rugby midfielder
John Leslie, at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday. Photo by
Former Kiwis captain Dean Bell sees sports science as a
big part of the modern version of rugby league - even if it is
a far cry from his own playing days.
Bell, who carved out a title-laden career between 1982 and
1996, winning seven Challenge Cup titles with Wigan in the
process, is now the general manager of football for the New
Zealand Warriors, after previously being in charge of
recruitment at the club.
Bell and former Otago rugby midfielder John Leslie were guest
speakers at the Otago Medical Research Foundation's Club
Otago lunch at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday, and Bell noted
the medical and scientific advances in his own sport since he
ran out as the Warriors' inaugural captain in 1995.
''The game changes immeasurably,'' he said.
''Things you were doing even five years ago are so outdated
now. Whether it's a good word or not, sports science has a
lot to play in that.''
The era of players jogging lap after lap around the perimeter
of the pitch at training are long gone, as clubs look to gain
that scientific edge over each other.
''There's no secret to the fact that the two clubs who have
invested heavily in the sports science area are the Storm and
the Bulldogs and they both made the grand final last year,''
''But that's only part of it. It's a simple game, so long as
you don't get too carried away with the science.''
Bell still has a part to play in recruitment at the Warriors,
and believes the market is fiercer than ever, with Australian
scouts making regular trips across the Tasman to raid the New
''You've got to spread the net wide,'' he said.
''We never take it for granted that anybody's just going to
sign for the Warriors. We'll never keep them all, because the
game produces too many good players. As long as we keep the
best ones, that's really our aim.
After a roller-coaster season in 2012, which ended at the
bottom of the dip, Bell has one hope from the Matthew
Elliott-coached side: consistency.
''That's a no-brainer really,'' he said.
''You want your team to go out there week to week and play at
a level they're proud of, and some winning football.''