Don't underestimate value of rest: Elliott
After a gruelling seven months of rugby league it's hard to overestimate the value of a week's rest in the second week of the finals, Matthew Elliott writes in this week's issue of Big League.
However that is not to say the two sides that played last week in the Cowboys and Roosters won't benefit from the momentum they picked up from their strong wins over the Sharks and Bulldogs respectively.
Despite the overall professionalism of clubs in managing player workloads there is no substitute for a chance to rest weary bodies, in particular for representative players or those managing injuries, Elliott said.
"Clubs utilise a wide range of technologies to monitor the workload and risks that players confront during a season and the application of sports science means a great deal of time is put into recovering teams," Elliott writes.
"But no amount of ice baths, massages or new-fangled machines surpasses the rejuvenating qualities of rest after being bashed for 80 minutes and training at a high level of intensity."
The mental and emotional benefits of a week away from the intensity of 80-minute NRL can be just as important as the physical benefits, he added.
"The result of this is that teams are showing up to training with a renewed enthusiasm, energy and focus, allowing coaches to drip more information into individuals and train at a higher level rather than being concerned with overloading their players."
The week off can be especially important for players accustomed to heavy representative workloads, of whom there are unsurprisingly many still fighting for a Grand Final spot.
"When considering the additional energy required to compete at Origin and international level, mixed with the ages of guys like Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk, Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker, the rest comes at the right time," Voss writes.
"Every individual will feel fresher after the break – particularly the Storm, who went through a tough last three rounds, playing three top four teams over an 18-day period."
The most obvious downside to the week off is a club's momentum and continuity can be compromised by not having the focus that a weekly game provides.
"Many teams struggle when coming off byes and longer turnarounds, as players can find it difficult to reignite elite execution levels straight away."
The Finals Week Three issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version available through Zinio.