Frozen Chooks thaw to far greater heights

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

IT was the three-day tor­ture train­ing camp which has been de­scribed as the Syd­ney Roost­ers’ ‘unity rock’.

Fresh from a scan­dal plagued 2016 sea­son, the Roost­ers headed to Queen­stown in New Zealand where ev­ery­thing was put on the line.

There would be zero tol­er­ance for off-field in­di­rec­tions, while co-skip­per Jake Friend de­scribed the camp as the mo­ment which “brought ev­ery­one to­gether”.

Play­ers were pushed to their lim­its as part of a three­day trek de­signed to test their re­silience. They were forced to climb hills and do sit-ups in a freez­ing lake.

They spooned to­gether at night, given barely enough blan­kets to keep warm.

It took place just be­fore Christ­mas in the fi­nal days be­fore the team broke up for the hol­i­day pe­riod, but the unity it pro­vided set them on course for Satur­day night’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

“It was pretty cold and mis­er­able at times,” Friend said. “They all fin­ished it. The re­ward of that brought ev­ery­one to­gether.

“The boys put a lot of ef­fort and a lot of hard work done in the month lead­ing up to the camp. That Queen­stown camp capped it all off. It was a point of dif­fer­ence for a team with a few new blokes to go and do some­thing like that and all fin­ish it. That sort of stuff brings a team to­gether.”

The camp has been a con­stant theme through­out the sea­son. When times have been tough, the play­ers of­ten speak about the hard­ships they over­came dur­ing the three days.

“The boys can go back and use some of that” said Friend, who missed the camp be­cause of his Kan­ga­roos com­mit­ments. “There was plenty of hard train­ing as well at the camp.

“It was a dif­fer­ent sort of camp. Trekking and all that sort of stuff. It was hard at times from what the boys have told me. That’s been a lit­tle part of the jour­ney this year.”

The week off has come at an op­por­tune time for the Roost­ers, who have been guilty of dip­ping in and out of matches this year.

Friend said not hav­ing to pre­pare for an op­po­nent has al- lowed them to fo­cus on en­sur­ing they are able to com­pete for 80 min­utes when they play off for a grand fi­nal spot on Satur­day.

“We’ve been in and out of games and some bad pe­ri­ods,” he said. “Those back ends of the game we go back to our footy and come up with wins time af­ter time is im­por­tant to us.

“With the games week in week out you some­times don’t’ get the time to prac­tice some of the stuff you like. This week has been re­ally good for that.

“We got out of it what we wanted. We get to have a few days off and watch the other team’s go around.”

The Roost­ers say the plat­form for this sea­son was laid dur­ing a New Zealand train­ing camp (in­sets).

Main pic­ture: Brett Costello

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