As the pre-season build up continues and involves weeks of conditioning and skills drills we spoke to Skills Coach Ian Costello who gives us an insight into the busy period.
"We had to modify the training to suit the conditions. It's been very hot the last few days so we just adjust the volumes and increase the rest times. Everyone's mood is lifted training in this weather and the lads have responded pretty well to it.
Obviously with the heat there is more weight loss and the S&C guys are constantly talking to the players about this, but it's mostly about replacing fluid. The lads have added in an extra break for food between sessions and they obviously increase the fluid in-take so it doesn't become an issue.
The focus at this stage is conditioning, and the way things work, and have worked for the last few years, is that we adapt an integrated approach to skills and conditioning. So an awful lot of the conditioning we do is done with a ball and is skill based. Small sided games where the players are operating under fatigue, having to make decisions, having to understand different scenarios as well as just the basics are all part of that.
I work closely with Bryce (Head of Fitness Bryce Cavanagh) to look at how we design different sessions that challenge the players from a skills perspective and a conditioning perspective. Sometimes it's just one or the other as Bryce needs to hit certain targets from a fitness point of view and then we try and adopt an integrated approach as much as possible, and the lads enjoy that.
It's just close co-operation between the departments and understanding what they're looking for versus what we're looking for and designing well-designed sessions and well-designed drills that mean we can achieve both.
With the use of GPS nowadays it gives us a huge advantage to record what we are hitting in certain drills. We know if we do a certain rugby drill we can see the fitness benefit from it, and depending on that fitness effect we can chose certain rugby based drills to adopt and we are just constantly evolving that. It's where the close co-operation between Bryce and the fitness department works quite well.
At the moment the training schedule is every second day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, just from a load point of view, and next week we switch it to two days on, a day off and two days on. They are building up their tolerance to the work-load and we'll step it up a notch next week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
The guys coming in next Monday (Internationals and Emerging Ireland) will start with their own week 1 programme and for two weeks they will follow what the lads have done these weeks.
They come in and out of our week 3 programme and by the time they get to their week 3, our week 5, we'll be fully integrated. That then gives us a five week run in with everybody into our first pre-season game against Gloucester.
The Lions players will come back at different times, depending on the player and how much game time they got. Realistically they will come back in and train but won't feature in the first few games we have.
The players we have in attendance as of next Monday will be our squad essentially for those first games, the pre-season matches and opening rounds of the league. That's why a number of academy guys and club players have been brought in. They will all be the guys we prepare the opening part of our season with and this time of year provides a great opportunity for them."
Bands used for speed resistance training
The players get ready for the next drill - high knees and straight legs
Physiotherapist Colm Coakley works with Niall Scannell and Donncha O'Callaghan
The rugby ball is introduced for the skills session