New Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has changed his side’s training times to the hottest part of the day in an attempt to improve their NRL away record.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has turned up the heat at Raiders training to avoid repeating last year’s lacklustre NRL away record in hotter climates.
The Raiders started last year with two heavy away losses on “stinking hot days”, going down 32-10 to Penrith and then 36-0 to Gold Coast.
It all but set the tone for the rest of their away games, finishing with just two wins from 12 matches.
Those two wins on the road were against Melbourne and St George Illawarra – the two most southern-based NRL sides.
This year, they’ll kick off round one against the Cowboys in sweltering north Queensland, before backing up against the Knights in Newcastle on a Sunday afternoon.
Stuart, who left Parramatta last season to coach the Raiders following the sacking of coach David Furner, has borrowed from his coaching experience at the NSW Blues and Australia to prepare for the hostile conditions.
The Raiders have already spent one week at an elite training camp at Coffs Harbour, and Stuart has changed the bulk of the training times from early mornings to mid-afternoons when the mercury has often hit 40C.
“It’s not the best on the old scalp – I’ve been through some sunscreen,” said captain Terry Campese, who is sporting a Kelly Slater-like tan and hairstyle to match.
“But the heat is something that we struggled with last year. We’re training in the arvos just to try and prepare ourselves for the first two months of the season and hopefully we can get off to a better start.”
Despite the gruelling sessions, all eight Raiders players spoken to by AAP on Thursday say the mood among the squad is as upbeat as it’s been in a long time following their controversial 2013 season.
Playmaker Josh McCrone says while the training has been tough, the entire squad understands it’s necessary if they want to improve their performances in several key areas.
“We ran into two stinking hot days at the Gold Coast and Penrith last year and performed poorly both times. We’re trying to safeguard ourselves against that,” he said.
“But no one is whingeing – we’ve all just dug in and done the work.”