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Conditioning Assistant Jim Molony, S&C Coach Joe Gallanagh and Head of S&C Paul Darbyshire with players Lifeimi Mafi and Keith Earls
Season Preparations
8 August 2010, 3:37 pm
The summer pre-season training is the busiest time of the year for the Munster Rugby Strength and Conditioning department and we catch up with Limerick based S&C Coach Joe Gallanagh to give us an insight into what they've been up to.
"This is certainly the busiest time of year for our department as we have the most contact with the players during these weeks. They probably hate to see us coming, but in saying that it's the first club I've been involved with that the players actually thank you afterwards, so that's fairly strange!

In the first week, all the non international guys came in and it was a low key week, getting the players used to being back in training, taking it nice and steady, and making sure they adapted to the workload after their time off.

Over the following weeks the training progressed each week, moving into a download period at the end of week four where the guys had a couple of days off to allow the bodies to recover and relax.

We have implemented a few different things so far this season. We wanted a longer base for most of the things we did this year so our drills are a little bit longer, and there's far more accountability in our drills. Everything is marked or timed, and everyone has individual and position specific goals whilst working against others in the same positions so there is a good level of competition maintained.

Players are competitive by nature, so we just wanted to enhance that competitiveness, and players like to see how they progress and we can also identify areas where individual players require additional training. It's a case of individualising the training but still maintaining a good group ethic.

We do a lot of strength work this time of year and we have introduced wrestling this season which the players have really taken on board, they're really enjoying the contact side of it! With the way the game has gone now, the advantage is given to the side in possession, so you have to hold onto it are be really strong to win it back. The breakdown is so important that we need to make sure our players are strong in those positions.

We periodise training throughout the weeks, and we use RPE (rate of perceived exertion), as well as GPS and heart rate systems. Incorporating the RPE means we get more of a realistic take on how hard training was, and we ask the players how they feel after each session. They could be showing stats one way but feeling completely different, so we get a clearer indication of the moods after training by simply asking them and personalising the tracking.

We need to take into account all the external factors as well, these guys have kids, need to travel distances, may lack sleep, and we need to consider more than the stats when summating how players are getting on. It just gives us another variable to work with and it provides us with a more realistic overview of how the players are advancing.

We had the internationals starting on their week 1 last week and they will filter into the system as they mirror what the starting group did. Everything is working towards the camp and the pre-season games, especially for the starting group. We will continue with the conditioning side of things and we have given them a good base but they are moving towards rugby specific training now.

At this time of the season we have the largest groups at training, with the younger lads getting an opportunity to see what level they need to be at to progress. Some of these guys get called to play in the pre-season games which gives them a little taste of things to come and keeps them hungry for action.

Next week we head to La Manga for a week long camp and needless to say it won't be a holiday and we'll all be busy. But the week away helps with team building and because we work out of two sites in Munster our time together is limited so we have to make the most of our training sessions."

Munster play their first pre-season game on Friday August 20th against Leicester Tigers in Musgrave Park, ko 7pm.

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