Titans pre-season camp binds squad together
It was the pre-season camp the Gold Coast Titans will hope to look back on at season's end as a key stepping stone towards resurrecting their fortunes under new coach Garth Brennan.
In any NRL season the players need to have trust and confidence in those that train and play beside them, and to be able to adapt to any situation that gets thrown up in the unpredictable landscape of professional footy.
Titans centre Dale Copley said that was exactly why the club's week-long camp in Toowoomba and the surrounding region prior to Christmas was the perfect end to what had been an intense block of training at the club's base on the Gold Coast.
"Generally with those camps there is a fair bit of food and sleep deprivation that goes into them, but it wasn't on the scale that I've done before," Copley told NRL.com
"We did get a bit of sleep deprivation where we were woken up in the middle of the night. One night we were woken up at 2am and did some hiking and the following night we had to guard our camp from any trespassers, who were some of the guys that were helping to run the camp.
"With our food we ate really well, and I think that was a benefit because we had trained six or seven weeks before Christmas and with guys working their tails off to get their bodies in good nick the last thing Garth and the coaches wanted was for us to lose four or five kilos by not eating for a week."
There were challenges, which included building makeshift rafts to cross waterways, with the focus on creating a tighter and more resilient playing group.
"We hiked up hills and carried stuff, all the things that make you uncomfortable and bring you together as a group," Copley said.
"The final night we finished training at 3pm, had a swim on the property we were at and they cooked us a barbecue and we had a couple of beers together.
"It was a pretty good way to cap off what had been a tough block of training. With new players and virtually new coaching staff it was good to get away and spend a few nights in each other's pockets and learn a bit about guys in ways you wouldn't at training."
Two bus breakdowns, one planned during camp and one unplanned on the way to Toowoomba on the Monday, also threw up some curve balls.
"Our team bus overheated halfway up the range to Toowoomba and we had to wait in the heat for a couple of mini-buses to come and pick us up, so that was a bit of a laugh," Copley said.
"The next breakdown I think was intended. The bus had apparently broken down, which I think was a bit of a pork pie, so we towed it two kilometres ourselves into the property we were staying at."
The Titans did some regular training and promotional work on the opening two days of the camp in Toowoomba, ahead of their upcoming trial against the Brisbane Broncos on February 17 and round three NRL clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons.
"I wanted to build some support in the community, not so much for the trial but for that competition game because we are going to be up against a NSW team," coach Brennan said.
"It was a bonding week, some hard work, football stuff and we got a bit of community support. I thought it was important that the players got to know me a bit as well.
"It wasn't a flog them, army style camp that would have undone all the hard work we did before Christmas."