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Warrington Wolves hail pre-season preparations after their most successful Super League campaign
IN the aftermath of their most successful season in the Super League era, why did the Wolves team of 2012 go one step further than any that went before it?
One of the main reasons could well be experience, with the 2011 semi-final defeat possibly playing a part in Wolves’ determination to ensure they made it to Old Trafford this time round.
Another will be Tony Smith’s much- discussed rotation policy, allowing the more experienced campaigners a chance to rest their aching limbs for the more important fixtures. But what has mostly been forgotten are the foundations that were laid by the team’s hard work during their Australian pre-season camp in January.
Not by the players themselves, however.
“I definitely think that work in Australia set us up perfectly,” said Mike Cooper.
“I think you would struggle to find a team that worked harder than us in pre-season considering what we did in Australia.”
No one is suggesting that a gruelling pre-season camp is a guarantee of success, but the brutal fitness training and bonding exercises the team completed when pounding the notorious Cronulla sand dunes and shadowing some of Australia’s most successful teams may well have created a team unity and mental strength that helped Wolves when they needed it most.
“One hundred per cent, what we did in Australia helped us to get where we got,” said Briers. “It is probably more mental strength than anything else, because it was ridiculously hard.
“We can draw back on those experiences – everyone running up the hills, being sick, the pain we felt – a year on we could use them to keep us going when times were tough.”
Though Wolves will not be repeating their Australian adventure ahead of next season (Wolves will spend a week of warm weather training in Tenerife in late January), Smith believes the experience of those three weeks will stay with his side way beyond this season.
“Some of what we did in that Australian camp gets mentioned, even during games,” said Smith.
“The sand dunes for example, or watching the Sydney Swans win their AFL Grand Final.
“We spent a few days with them and we were highly impressed with their culture and their team belief.
“To see them go on and win the Grand Final was very inspiring for us, and we have tried to infiltrate it into our team culture permanently.”