THE premature wintry weather has not overly affected York City Knights’ pre-season work so far – with boss Dave Woods lauding the way the squad has bonded together and bought into the strict new regime.
Two midweek training get-togethers in York had to be cancelled due to heavy snowfalls on the roads but they were replaced with individual fitness work, while two sessions were held at the weekend – power weights and a gym triathlon on Saturday, and a wrestling and skills session yesterday.
Other than last week’s call-offs, said Woods, pre-season fitness training under tough taskmaster Alan Dickinson had flourished since preliminary testing took place five weeks ago.
Conditioning coach Dickinson arrived with an uncompromising reputation, but Woods said: “The players are really happy with what they’ve been doing and everyone has taken on board what we’re wanting to do.
“Straight away I set the platform and said it would be different this year and discipline would be high on the agenda from the start. If they didn’t like it they were free to leave.
“Dicko also addressed them and said it was going to be tough but come the end of the year they would appreciate it and enjoy it.
“He said a couple of players would drop out in pre-season.
“But they’ve all stuck to it so far and it’s been good. To their credit they’ve taken to it well.
“We’ve had 38 to 40 (first-teamers and reserves) training each night and, if someone has to miss a session due to work or something, they’ve done the extras so they’ve caught up, and they’re not getting away with things.”
The schedule includes 6am sessions in the gym on top of evening get-togethers, with indoor sessions – the Knights have been able use facilities at the University of York, York St John University and Burnholme College – now replacing outdoor activity. There are also mini-triathlon gym sessions in York and hills work in Pontefract at weekends.
Conditioning is top of the agenda at present although there is a fair bit of contact work, skills work and ball work. Tactics will come later.
Woods said the new players had settled in well.
“You can see there’s a good mentality among them,” he said. “Alex Benson (prop) said how good it felt, the way they’re all getting on. We want the team to build together – that will help them in games.
“The majority of the new blokes have really impressed me. Duane Straugheir and Mark Barlow have been tremendous in the way they talk to the lads, helping the younger ones. Duane is young himself but when it’s got tough on the hills, for example, he was the one geeing them up to keep going.
“Sam Lynch and Tom Bush are quiet kids, but they get on with their work and they’ve been really professional about what they’ve done.
“All the new fellas have been good and so far the whole squad have been buying into what we’re trying to do.”