Storm­ers’ need for speed

Cape out­fit is con­cen­trat­ing on con­di­tion­ing ahead of Su­per Rugby

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

STORM­ERS strength and con­di­tion­ing coach, Stephan du Toit, last week said that they were fo­cused on cut­ting the fat among their play­ers and get­ting them faster. Or, at least, get­ting them to work at their high­est pos­si­ble in­ten­sity.

And that is ex­actly what Rob­bie Fleck’s, pic­tured, men need to ad­vance the ’new ap­proach’ they adopted last year.

In 2016, the Storm­ers said they would look to keep the ball in hand more and play more ex­pan­sively, and al­though we saw promis­ing glimpses of that dur­ing their Su­per Rugby cam­paign, they still have some miles to go be­fore they can ri­val the Lions’ or the Chee­tahs’ im­pres­sive progress.

But an al­tered con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme is the first step in that di­rec­tion.

Think of it like this; the more speed train­ing and re­ac­tion time train­ing play­ers do, the faster they will be able to run, but they will also be able to re­act to game sit­u­a­tions quicker and more ef­fec­tively.

So ba­si­cally, quicker ex­e­cu­tion, fewer er­rors.

And that is vi­tal if a team wants to play a more at­tack­ing brand.

Du Toit and new Storm­ers skills man Paul Feeney have worked closely to en­hance the Cape side’s at­tack­ing flair since the Kiwi ar­rived on South African shores.

And that is the right way to do it be­cause, in essence, speed with­out skills might be some­thing, but be­ing able to ex­e­cute a skill at speed or at least in one smooth mo­tion is worth much more.

One area that Du Toit said has also been a fo­cus area, has been to get play­ers to run faster af­ter con­tact.

“We are try­ing to bring in a lit­tle bit more ball in hand. Speed is the one com­po­nent that is re­ally in­flu­en­tial, so we try and tar­get speed and with that play­ers need to lose weight and skin-folds.

“The game is get­ting faster but not longer. We are try­ing to im­prove the skill of run­ning faster af­ter con­tact,” he said.

The em­pha­sis on that is a great choice, as a player’s speed off the ground will help him to get into ei­ther an at­tack­ing or de­fen­sive line quicker.

He also said that for­wards, props specif­i­cally, will share some of the skill re­quire­ments to backs.

“Props now need to pass and catch and get back up on their feet the same way that backs need to. We are try­ing to get them all to do at least some­thing at a high ve­loc­ity af­ter con­tact.” Feeney, hav­ing worked with the Blues as skills coach and, well, be­ing a New Zealan­der, would know the im­por­tance of skills train­ing bet­ter than most. The proof is in how the New Zealand sides play. Their for­wards’ agility and mo­bil­ity lev­els are not worlds away from their backs, and their skills need no ex­pla­na­tion.

So, hav­ing him on board is vi­tal for the Storm­ers. But so is their con­di­tion­ing.

In fact, you could say that con­di­tion­ing is the most im­por­tant as­pect, as that is the foun­da­tion that should come be­fore any other area.

So, the Storm­ers’ choice to al­ter their con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme and add a skills em­pha­sis is the right one.

And just in case you thought they weren’t se­ri­ous about their Su­per Rugby prepa­ra­tion, Du Toit said that they were also mon­i­tor­ing the play­ers’ eat­ing habits.

“We have a di­eti­cian that we work with and that we send play­ers to.

“We’ve put a big em­pha­sis on that. A lot of the heav­ier guys or the guys that can lose a bit, were lighter.”

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