As many Worcester Warriors fans can tell you, Alex Grove has remained the heart and soul of the club for many seasons now. An Academy product, who has also represented Scotland at A and first team level, Grove has hauled together a tremendous 110 appearances for the club, and will hopefully add to the number in the near future. A defensive stalwart in the Centre, last season he really demonstrated his ability with ball in hand too, featuring 27 times and scoring 5 tries in 2012-2013. With tremendous change taking place at the club, and another handful of signings being made my DOR Dean Ryan, the road ahead seems a little less bumpy than it has been in recent times. As one of the stand out and internationally experienced players in the squad, there is no doubt Grove will be a part of the new-look Sixways team this year.
Interested to find out the average working week of a Worcester Warrior, I asked Alex to write a little piece delving into his tough training regime. I can safely say, after reading it, there is a lot I don’t envy about being an elite player!
Take a look at Alex’s absorbing, yet exhausting week-
‘In season, Mondays are about recovery and analysis. The mornings are spent debriefing the game from the weekend both individually and collectively. Our video analysts spend hours ‘tagging’ every involvement of each player so that come Monday morning we can watch back every kick, pass, run and tackle without trawling through the whole game. The squad will then be debriefed as a whole, where the coaching staff highlight any team issues from the game. We then split; the forwards head off to discuss all things scrum, lineout and maul, whilst the backs look at starter plays, kick strategies and counter attack opportunities.
Such is the physicality of the game nowadays, players need to make the most out the 48 hour window post game in order to prepare as best as possible for the following weekend. Ice baths, massages, swimming and stretching are all tools we use to overcome the bumps and bruises, and there’s always a window to fit in these recovery sessions on a Monday. The strength and conditioning staff run a ‘Conditioned Games’ session in the afternoon. These are usually small sided, high tempo, non contact games intended to run out the stiffness in our legs and improve our skills at the same time.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are our toughest days with three sessions per day. Weights, Speed and Rugby on Tuesday followed by Weights, Unit Skills and Rugby on Wednesday means by the time our day off arrives on Thursday, we’re in need of some R&R!
The volume and intensity of the sessions are closely monitored by the strength and conditioning staff and the physios, as these are the guys who are aware of who is fully fit and aware of the ones carrying niggles. We’ll also have various meetings regarding the upcoming game. Like Monday’s debriefing, we’ll split into small groups, for example the half backs will discuss the game plan as they’re the guys who pull the strings on the pitch. The front row will meet to talk specifics regarding the set piece. These are short and sharp meetings but an opportunity to add some detail to our preparation.
Days off are often spent with friends and family. In the drier months, some guys head to golf course for an 18 hole hack! Massage and physio sessions are available at the club and depending on the volume that week, I’ll squeeze in an extra gym session or book in for a massage at the club and go for a swim and some pre-habilitation work.
The final session of the week is our team run session. All the hard work is done and all that’s left is to put the finishing touches on. This is Friday.
Forwards will briefly recap the line outs they’re taking into the weekend whilst the backs will again recap our attacking plays and general game plan.
We’ll then have a short meeting as a 23 man squad and run through a short but intense unopposed session. Whilst only brief, this session is vital in our preparation as it is very specific to our game plan for the following day. Following this, players have time who work on individual skills, whilst others may require further physiotherapy.
In the 24 hours pre-game, recovery, resting and refuelling are on the agenda so that come 3 o’clock on Saturday, we’re firing on all cylinders. I tend to get to sleep around midnight pre match. I find that if I go to bed any earlier, I wake earlier, and am fidgeting around with pre-match nerves and excitement.
We’ll usually have a team meeting just over an hour before kick-off where the coaches and captain will recap the game plan and make sure everyone is on the same wave length.
Then it’s boots on and gum shields in.
Many thanks to Alex for his time and I would like to wish him and all the players and staff a successful pre-season, and a triumphant start to the 2013-14 season.