Frozen Chooks thaw to far greater heights
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