More on what Twentyman is doing with the club during preseason.
The unseen signing who’s reading from Ricky’s playbook to turn the Warriors around
Source: FOX SPORTS
Take a quick look at the Warriors’ squad changes from season 2019 to 2020 and there’s not a whole lot of movement.
The only recognised “in” is Wayde Egan, the young hooker who left Penrith to move across the ditch and is gunning for the No.9 jumper.
But Stephen Kearney has made another, less heralded signing, and this one could be the key to turning the club’s finals fortune around.
Alex Corvo has been replaced as head of performance by Craig Twentyman.
Twentyman previously spent years working with the Wallabies and the Australian rugby sevens teams, and is considered one of the shrewdest operators in the business.
He’s taken control of the Warriors’ pre-season program and the players are eating up everything their new trainer delivers.
“We had a big change in the head of performance role so we have a whole new program. Hopefully this program will work a lot better for us,” captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck told foxsports.com.au.
“We’ve got him over and he’s changed a lot, (brought) a lot of his ideas of what he thinks is going to work well for us.
“A lot of high-speed intensity, a lot of reps. Trying to get the ball in hand a lot earlier than usual.”
Tuivasa-Sheck and his younger teammate Chanel Harris-Tavita revealed the players had previously barely touched a football in pre-season training leading up to the Christmas break.
When they returned in November to Twentyman’s new program, they found themselves running through skills and drills immediately.
Rather than a focus on long-running and cardio fitness, the team has been honing in on executing skills under extreme fatigue.
Kearney identified the Warriors’ biggest issue last year was closing out games in the final 10 minutes.
“Fitness for most teams is not always the problem. Game fitness is different to a test fitness,” Tuivasa-Sheck explained.
“For us it was about the skill and executing the big plays, and that’s what we needed last year. We were in the fight in most games but we lost at the back end, or lost in moments.
“Going into this season it’s about being able to execute under pressure.
“It’s fatigue, pressure, all of that plays a part when you’re trying to execute. If we can practice in those scenarios then come game day it will be a habit for us.”
Kearney’s realisation and plan to fix that issue is similar to that of Canberra coach Ricky Stuart last year.
Having lost several games after the 70th minute in season 2018, Stuart designed the 2019 pre-season to focus on decision making and execution under extreme fatigue, as revealed by foxsports.com.au last year.
The result? A grand final, and achingly close to winning the premiership.
Twentyman’s program is chalk and cheese to that of Corvo’s, but the players are responding well to the change.
“As soon as we got back we were working on our skills straight away, under fatigue, which was good,” young playmaker Harris-Tavita said.
“I think it’s felt a lot different. Last year we were running 12ks in a day, about 30 kilometres a week, whereas now we do 12ks a week instead of in one day.
“It’s helped me focus more on my skill as well which is good.”
The Warriors broke a seven-year finals drought in 2018 but slipped back down the ladder to finish 13th last season.
Tuivasa-Sheck says the players realise that’s not an acceptable result this year, and are determined to returning to the competition’s top eight.
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