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Five things we learned on camp

With the first team squad arriving back in the UK today following a week-long training camp on Spain’s Costa Blanca, takes a look at some key things we’ve learned over the past seven days …

1/ Excellent facilities prove beneficial

With temperatures in the low 20s and considerably better than snowy East Yorkshire, the training camp proved to be very beneficial. Arranged to offer the squad the chance to reflect on their first two pre-season friendlies against York and Hull before fine-tuning preparations against London this Friday, the camp also proved perfectly timed in avoiding less than ideal training conditions at home. With mornings starting from 6.30am in the gym, each day included two sessions out on the field as the squad honed structures for the new Super League season. The team’s hotel also proved to be excellent with a leading French cycling squad and two professional football clubs also making use of the facilities in Spain throughout the week. With the squad getting together four times a day for meals as well as relaxing in the spa, it also proved a useful week for team bonding behind the scenes.

2/ Skills looking sharp

Much of the focus during the camp was on building combinations between the club’s spine players – namely the likes of Adam Quinlan, Danny McGuire, Tommy Lee, Matty Marsh and Shaun Lunt – with the warm temperatures and pristine playing surface in Spain allowing the squad plenty of time on the field. Whether it be hand-eye co-ordination drills, the team’s left edge versus the right edge or video review sessions, improving and maintaining core skills was a key aim with all of the squad looking sharp with ball in hand. In terms of structures, Tim Sheens has already identified the need for his team to be able to play expansively in Super League in order to test opposition defences. There was plenty of this on show in Spain with the team working on their attacking shape and pressing forward with plenty of options.

3/ Coaching staff working well together

With two full-time members of staff in both the strength and conditioning department and the physiotherapy department, plus Head of Performance Tom Clough, the club’s off-field staff has been strengthened over the off season. Head coach Tim Sheens continues to work closely with assistants James Webster and David Hodgson, with the trio combining well in all aspects of preparation. Sheens oversees the team’s attacking structure with his attention to detail obvious on the Spanish training camp as he ran through plays and structures with his side, whilst Webster oversees the team’s defensive patterns which were again much improved last season. Hodgson is a specialist skills coach, working with the club’s outside backs in most details, but also running key skills drills with the full squad.

4/ Injured players ready for return

The warm weather training camp was the first opportunity for a number of senior players to join their teammates in full training out on the field following operations in the off season. Shaun Lunt, Nick Scruton, Andrew Heffernan, Ben Kavanagh, Josh Johnson and Lee Jewitt were amongst those to take full part in the team’s drills and utilise their experience to add to the intensity of a busy camp. Coming through with no major problems, the club’s injured players remain on course for returns in the near future, with several pencilled in to face London Broncos on Friday night. Back rower James Donaldson also participated fully in the camp in Spain but is likely to be given a few weeks longer by the coaching staff as he completes his rehab on an ACL injury.

5/ Interesting insight into video review

On the third day of the camp, the club’s media team and local reporter Gareth Westmorland were given the chance to sit in on a video review session as the team analysed their recent performance against Hull FC. Normally kept behind closed doors, the review proved to be a riveting insight into the intricacies of a professional squad with the attention to detail hitting a new level. James Webster starting by running some defensive plays before the game, before Tim Sheens and David Hodgson reviewed the attack, highlighting some of the missed opportunities from their side as well as the positives from the performance. What was very apparent was the input of players into the session, with a number of players offering their thoughts, observations and insights on the display. An open forum for discussion, much of the attention was on building towards the Super League opener against Wakefield in two weeks’ time.

Tickets for this Friday’s pre-season friendly against London Broncos (7.30pm) and the Super League opener against Wakefield Trinity on Friday, 2nd February (8pm), both at KCOM Craven Park, are on sale now at

Photo: Five things we learned on camp