One addition to the weekly schedule over the past couple of weeks has been the fat troop. Fat troop consists of an extra conditioning session, usually performed on a bike, which gives the slightly, eh, curvier individuals the opportunity to improve their body composition. I am not ashamed to say that the sedentary lifestyle that accompanies wearing a sling and being unable to exercise for four weeks took its toll on me and I will be marching into fat troop with a smile on my face every week for the foreseeable future. I won't put anyone else to shame by listing off the regular attendees. However, I'm sure if you make an educated guess you won't be too far from the truth.
This week we welcomed back the ten members of the squad who represented Emerging Ireland in the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest. The return of the preseason stragglers always cements the atmosphere of unity which preseason brings to the group. It feels like the final piece of the jigsaw has been put in place and we can begin to focus on making the coming season a highly successful one.
Coming back late does not mean they can avoid the suffering that everyone else has already endured for three weeks. Far from it in fact. Although these players will make an immediate return to squad sessions, they will work off a modified conditioning programme for the next few weeks. This is every bit as brutal and challenging as the initial period was for the rest of us and they will have served their time in preseason purgatory before they are given the green light to return to play.
Having completed four weeks of intense training, the rest of us can look forward to our download week which lies ahead. Download weeks are an essential part of professional rugby. They give players the opportunity to recover and grow after a demanding period of work for the body and mind. The squad still trains but the intensity is reduced. There is a large focus on ensuring that any minor injuries are dealt with so that players can begin the next phase of preseason with a clean bill of health. The week usually contains a couple of days off training completely, during which we will once again embark on the Munster Race.
Last year saw the inaugural Munster Race taking place. This involved the squad being split into separate groups and travelling around the province with the help of generous members of the public. Despite being apprehensive about what lay ahead, the entire squad thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It gave us an extended opportunity to engage with supporters and to experience life in some of the most beautiful parts of Munster. My group was lucky enough to spend the night in the lovely town of Bantry, where I have been happy to return since.
We all hope that this year will live up to the expectations that last year has created. I certainly look forward to letting you know how we all get on.
Duncan's Diary - Week 3
Duncan's Diary - Week 2
Duncan's Diary - Week 1