“IT won’t make you better rugby players, but it will make you better teammates.”

Those were the words of Sam Burgess to his Warrington Wolves players as they prepared for the most gruelling part of their pre-season schedule.

Just before Christmas, the squad headed to Kent for a three-day military camp led by Ant Middleton, a former Special Forces operative best known for his work on the hit Channel 4 show “SAS: Who Dares Wins.”

Having only returned to training days beforehand following his post-season duties as England captain, George Williams was certainly thrown in at the deep end as the players were tested to the limit physically and mentally.

And he believes their experiences over those tortuous days have bonded them ahead of the trials and tribulations of a Super League campaign.

“We got a lot out of it – you learn a lot about each other when you’re cold and wet in a tent together having run 70-odd kilometres in 30-something hours,” he said.

“It was hard work but nobody quit – I’ve done these things with teams before where someone’s quit or faked an injury, but there was none of that.

“Everyone bought in and did what they needed to do.

“You’re pulling tires round at two in the morning but when you complete it, you’re buzzing and you celebrate it together.

“Phones were taken off us and you end up talking about things you don’t really talk about at training.

“There’s no cliques – we’re together and it’s good.”

Trawling through the English winter while their rivals jetted off for warm-weather training camps was no doubt part of the plan for Burgess as he looks to transform the mentality of a team that has often been accused of crumbling when the pressure is on.

Having played alongside his new head coach while on international duty, it is a potentially weird dynamic for Williams as a senior player under the charge of a man he once called a teammate.

However, he insists the transition has been an easy one and that while some traits of Burgess the player are still there, there is a clear separation.

“He was a leader when he played,” he said.

“He was my England captain when I played – he was my leader then so it’s been a smooth transition.

“I can still talk to him about nights out we had but when we’re on the field, we’re switched on.

“The word that comes to mind straight away is intense, even in meetings.

“He’s got an aura about him and when he speaks, you listen.

“He’s good with people – even with some of the young lads who probably won’t play until maybe next year, he’s getting to know them on a personal level.

“He knows what it takes – you’ve got to get to know your players and he’s doing that really well.

“When we work, it’s full-on but we have a laugh too when we finish.

“He’s not long out of it so he knows the chat and the banter. The balance is there and it’s enjoyable.

“Obviously that’s easy to say now as there’s no pressure on training, but I don’t see it changing once the games start. That’s the kind of environment he’s created.”

While he may have stopped short of making predictions or grand statements for his first year in charge, Burgess will be fully aware of the expectation that permanently surrounds The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

A club that sits among the very best in the competition in pretty much every area apart from the one that really matters – quite a job to take on as a rookie head coach.

At the very least, he will know that the gap that currently exists between Warrington and those at the top of the sport – particularly neighbours Wigan Warriors and St Helens – has to be narrowed.

As the poster boy for rugby league in this country and indeed Australia during his playing career, however, it is nothing the new boss is unaccustomed to.

“With the career he’s had and the pressure he’s been under, I think he takes the pressure in his stride,” Williams said.

“He’s had a great career and I don’t doubt his coaching will be the same.

“There’s always pressure in every high-performance sport and there’s always pressure around Warrington, but Sammy will handle that easily.

“That gap’s got to close. It has to get to a point where any team playing against us knows what they’re getting.

“If you go to Saints or Wigan, you know what you’re getting. We need to find our identity but I 100 per cent think we will this year.

“We’ve had two years of hit-and-miss and while we may not always win, from now on you’ll see a team.”