The Titans could soon develop a best-practice association with the likes of European football giant Real Madrid and English club Crystal Palace on the back of a visit by Titans performance consultant Tim Gabbett last week.
Gabbett, who has made a large impact at the Titans since joining last November, has just returned from a 12-day visit to England and Spain where his clients included Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bolton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, England Cricket and the English Rugby Union (RFU).
He was there as part of his business, Gabbett Performance Solutions, to primarily provide feedback and information on training and game workloads with injuries and conduct an informal review of what their clubs were doing.
And while ‘Man U’ and Real Madrid are massive multi-million Euro operations and he watched closely the routines of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, he returned with the firm belief that our methods and the fitness and attitude of Titans players is world rated.
“I’ve been fortunate to travel the world in my business and I must say our group at the Titans at present is the best I’ve worked with,” he said.
“They’re strong upstairs [in the mind] and they are starting to realise that they’ve only scratched the surface on how good they can be.
“This visit only confirmed that to me.”
The resources of the soccer empires are incomparable to ours with larger staff and greater facility including an ‘InMotio’ player tracking video system (via radio frequency) that is mounted on high towers overlooking Old Trafford at a cost of around 750,000 pounds.
Gabbett enjoyed a rare insight into some of the best paid athletes in the world and their workloads that sees teams in the Champions League play up to 65 games a season.
Real Madrid have nine physiotherapists, almost one to two players, but he feels a change from the belief that training players too hard can expose them to injury to an emphasis that controlled higher level training can help prevent injury, is gradually occurring.
“Where being bigger and stronger helps in rugby league, in football [soccer] they talk about the technical-tactical game where if you’re not physically stronger than your opponent the technical-tactical side can still get you over the top of him,” he said.
“So that’s where the emphasis is. But my take on it is that the team that gets its head around the benefits of physical hard work as well will put themselves two to three years ahead of the opposition.
“A school of thought is that you can train too hard and get injured. However, the evidence shows that you can train hard and get extremely fit and that protects you against injury. And if you get players to high chronic loads safely and not ramp them up too quickly, it actually protects them against injury.”
Tim spent four days each at Manchester and Madrid. He watched Ronaldo train at close hand and said his work ethic and attitude matched he freakish genetic capabilities he is renowned for. He was also amazed at the training focus of Croatian midfielder Luca Modric.
But he was most fascinated by some goalkeeping drills and how they could be adapted to the NRL.
“For a goalie it’s about getting on the ground and then up again quickly for another effort and that’s what rugby league players have to do – a tackle then get up off the ground and get into position to get off the line hard again and change direction again,” he said.
One outcome could be a follow up visit by Real Madrid to the Titans while they are in Australia in June for a match against the Socceroos in Melbourne, while Crystal Palace are also looking at a visit and exchange of information relationship.