Intense training may be cause of Warriors injuries
Along with Manly the Warriors have the heaviest injury toll in the Telstra Premiership right now, and this week acknowledged that their training methods could be partly to blame.
The loss of Ben Henry to a season-ending ruptured anterior cruciate ligament took the current casualty list up to seven, while a host of other players are only just returning from lay-offs to start 2015.
"We have got a philosophy around here that we have to train pretty hard, we have to train with a certain intensity. From time to time that means we are going to have some injuries," coach Andrew McFadden told NRL.com.
"It's probably well-documented that we need to raise the levels of our fitness capacity, so we have to train them hard."
Under new head of athletic development Balin Cupples the Warriors have devoted more time to conditioning work, and McFadden says the simple fact of the players' bodies not being used to that has led to more injuries.
"Their bodies will adapt to that, in the time being we are going to have the odd person who has an injury and we just need to concede that is all part of the process," McFadden said.
"From a results point of view their body compositions are the best I have seen since I have been here, and from what I hear the best in a long time. What we are trying to build is better athletes and obviously then better footballers as well.
"We certainly take those injuries very seriously and look at everything we do when we have an injury."
Despite the setbacks Cupples remains staunch in the belief that the club's processes around fitness and conditioning are on the right track, saying injuries are sometimes the price you pay for trying to get to the top.
"It's the nature of the sport when you are pushing your athletes to be a top-four side like we are," he said.
"We went in with a strategy at the start of the season to get the Warriors up in terms of conditioning and running load and I truly think we have done that.
"It's always about managing and looking at our monitoring systems, making sure we are across everything.
"You are always evaluating your programmes… we spend a lot of time each week personally, and as a staff, going over our loads and how they are affecting players.
"I am really happy with how comprehensive our monitoring system is."
There have been other factors which have been completely out of the club's control as well.
Through the pre-season and opening rounds the Warriors' training base at Mt Smart Stadium has hosted several large-scale concerts which have meant the number one field has been off limits.
As a result the team spent much of their build-up to the season on a brand new field at the back of the stadium, before recently moving back to the number one field for all activities.
Cupples said the change of fields may explain the spate of hamstrings injuries, which have been responsible for Siliva Havili, Ken Maumalo, Sam Rapira and Sam Tomkins missing games.
"Change of field surface is always an indicator," he said.
"Most of the pre-season we used [the field] up the top. I don't like to blame it on certain things like field surfaces, but it probably has been a factor for us.
"It's just part of the training base – it could be a factor in terms of the time of changing fields, the times of injuries."