WOLVES prop Paul Wood believes this year’s Australian training camp is bigger and better than anything he has seen before in pre-season.
Even 2012’s Aussie trip pales in comparison to 2014’s globe-trotting adventure, which has pitted Wolves against a much wider variety of NRL clubs in a bid to give them the edge throughout the 2014 Super League season.
In the past nine days Warrington have enjoyed training sessions against Australian Rules football team the Sydney Swans and NRL clubs Manly, St George, Canterbury Bulldogs and two sessions with reigning champions Sydney Roosters.
Wood has no doubt that this experience will be vital during a year in which Wolves will learn to cope with the biggest change in the playing staff since Tony Smith took up the reins in 2009.
“We’ll probably take more confidence out of this training camp then we did last time,” he said.
“Obviously we have had a lot of key senior players leave, so in a small way it feels like a new team even if a lot of the parts are the same.
“I think we will probably get more out of it this year because of the fact we need to adapt to the change in personnel. It has been a transition period and players are showing what they can do.
“We have looked really, really good together.”
One of the most beneficial aspects has been the opportunity to test their new combinations against the best defences the NRL has to offer, something that training against your own teammates just cannot replicate.
“The NRL teams don’t know how we play, they don’t know the calls and moves we use, so we can put those on in game situations without them knowing what is going to happen,” said Wood.
“That really allows us to see which are proving effective and which aren’t.
“If we were just going 13 on 13 against players from our own squad, sometimes you hear a call or see a signal that can make your mind up in defence.
“But this way we are really testing our attack and then testing our defence because we don’t know what is coming either. That has been very useful.”
Having trained with Bulldogs today, Thursday, Wolves have one training session left with Roosters and also await enduring the dreaded Wanda sand dunes on Saturday, while also fitting in some coaching with community clubs.
Training with the country’s biggest NRL teams and working with youngsters is allowing Wolves to build a media presence in Australia that could have far-reaching commercial implications for the future.
“It is not just the NRL clubs we have worked with, as there was a lot of interest in us training with Swans and we were on the back pages of the Sydney Herald,” said Wood.
“People in the streets are asking us whether we’re going to play Souths again.
“So people are remembering last time we were here and they seem disappointed to hear that we won’t be having another game like last time.
“I’m certain this trip has gone further in increasing Warrington Wolves as a brand in Australia.”