Vodafone Warriors confirm training staff
Friday 2 November 2012 2:14 PM
Four years after his retirement, club legend Ruben Wiki is returning fulltime to the Vodafone Warriors after being confirmed today in the club’s new-look strength and conditioning department for the 2013 season.
Since ending his stellar playing career with 312 NRL appearances and a then-world record 55 Tests, Wiki (39) has had part-time roles with the Vodafone Warriors as well as working as the New Zealand Rugby League’s high performance manager and on the Kiwis’ coaching staff.
Now he becomes a fixture at his old club again after being appointed as strength and conditioning coach in the Vodafone Warriors’ bolstered training staff announced today by head strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings.
Otara-raised Wiki said he couldn’t wait to embrace his job when the Vodafone Warriors reconvene on Monday to start their pre-Christmas off-season training programme.
“I’m so excited about being back here. I love this place and being involved with the players like this is my passion,” he said.
“I can’t thank the NZRL enough for the opportunity I had with them. I’ve learnt so much from my time with them but now I’m ready to get into working with my club again and doing all I can to help us be as good as we can possibly be.
“I’m really looking to working with Matt (Elliott) again and also Carl. We go back to the Canberra days.”
Wiki’s 225-game Canberra career ran from 1993-2004 before he joined the Vodafone Warriors. Elliott was on the Raiders’ coaching staff from 2001-2006 while Jennings was head strength and conditioning coach.
“I’m delighted to be working with Ruben again,” said Elliott.
“As a person, he models the culture we want to develop at the Vodafone Warriors.
“What he offers as a person sits alongside the skill set he brings with him for this job. First and foremost there’s his obvious wealth of experience as player at the highest level and since retiring he has also become a skilled practitioner in the strength and conditioning field. He has the whole package.”
Apart from his strength and conditioning role, Elliott said Wiki would also contribute in a coaching capacity by mentoring NRL players.
As well as announcing Wiki’s appointment, Jennings confirmed three other staff – sports science manager Brad Morris, rehab and speed coach Dayne Norton and performance analyst Adam Sadler.
“Our training staff will be involved across the club from our NRL team through to the NYC team and the development squad as well as the Vulcans (in the New South Wales Cup),” said Jennings.
“We will be taking an integrated approach to all we do, adopting a whole of club mentality.”
As well as being sports science manager, Australian-born Morris – who has a master of exercise science degree – will add value as a wrestling coach, drawing on his experience as an amateur and professional fighter.
Morris (34) is an MMA (mixed martial arts) specialist and has also fought in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in North America.
He has been involved in the NRL the last three seasons, working with Elliott and Jennings as Penrith’s wrestling coach in 2010 and 2011 before moving to the Sydney Roosters this year as their performance coach (strength and power).
“Brad will specialise in the research and application of the latest, best-practice training and recovery methods,” said Elliott.
“He’ll also ensure we’re abreast of all the latest international trends in the sports science field.”
Aucklander Norton brings vast experience as a long-serving trainer with the Vodafone Warriors and also with the Kiwis, being involved in each of New Zealand’s major title triumphs in the last seven years (the 2005 Tri Nations, the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and the 2010 Four Nations).
“The rehab and speed role will allow Dayne to develop our players in speed and agility as well as getting injured players game-ready,” said Elliott.
“He’ll liaise with the medical staff and trainers in a role that was identified as a gap in our system following the in-season and post-season review completed recently. Dayne’s expertise in speed and agility training has been largely untapped but it’s an important resource for the whole club.”
The training department is completed by Christchurch-born and raised Sadler who, like Jennings, joins the Vodafone Warriors after experience with the Crusaders and Canterbury rugby union organisations over the last two years.
He has an undergraduate degree in sports and exercise science.
“Adam will collate training footage as well as GPS, heart rate and other data as a training and game-day resource for coaches, trainers and players,” said Elliott.
Vodafone Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell said confirmation of the expanded training department marked a vital step forward for the club.
“This is a key outcome of the plans announced in July when (owners) Owen Glenn and Eric Watson committed to a substantial investment in personnel, sports science and other resources for our football department,” he said.
“This is a critical start and it points us in the right direction as we strive for best-practice in our football operation.”
Bell said the Vodafone Warriors would be able to confirm their full coaching team in the next few days.