New physical performance manager Nick Poulos chats to afc.com.au about the start of pre-season training.
In the first of the two-part interview, Nick tells us how powerful midfielder Scott Thompson can still get stronger and outlines his plans for the pre-season.
Q. You have assumed the role of physical performance manager in just your second year at the Club. You must be rapt with the new challenge?
A. “I love the place, so for me to put my hand up and be given the opportunity to take over from Stephen Schwerdt is not only a wonderful feel-good moment, but it’s great knowing I can contribute to the squad; to help them build on last season and hopefully take them to another level.”
Q. You’d worked with a variety of athletes, from Rugby Union to track and field, but never in Australian Rules before joining the Crows. How did you find your first year at the Club?
A. “I loved it. It was beyond my wildest dreams. It helps having a really good group of players around you. Out of all the athletes I’ve worked with, this is collectively the best group I’ve ever been associated with. Working with Schwerdty, Matthew Bode, Jarryd Wallace and the physical performance and medical teams … all the stars aligned a little bit with us.
“My understanding of the game was fast-tracked having Schwerdty and Bodey next to me, but that was probably the biggest learning curve - that and understanding the physiological requirements of the game.
“The structures and systems in place are fairly similar in most professional sporting teams. The AFL is a bigger organisation … the playing list is bigger and the dynamics of the high performance and coaching teams are different, so I had to adapt to that but it was easy because everyone here respects each other. There’s a lot of mutual respect for people doing their own roles and having faith and trust in each other and the program as whole.”
Q. How much different will the training program be under your guidance?
A. “Schwerdty He had a lot of faith in some of the advice I provided. Because we’re such a tight-knit team, the program delivered last pre-season was a combined effort. There will be a few subtle changes to the program. For example, we’re going to start a little earlier and give the players a bit more recovery time between sessions. Nutrition is a major part of our program and that will help enhance recovery and ensure we get the best out of each session.
“Our running component will shift a bit more towards repeat-effort work because that’s the way the game is evolving. The players will still do four, or for some guys five, strength sessions a week and we’ve still got the main football sessions of course. From the outside, it’ll look pretty similar but there are few subtle nuances that will enhance the program a little bit more.
“The structure of the physical performance department will also be a little bit different to the Stephen Schwerdt system. Essentially, I’ll be doing what Schwerdty was doing, but also with a big focus on the strength, power and speed work, which is my baby.
“Andrew Young will move into the strength and conditioning area. He has a really strong hold on load management from an injury prevention perspective and GPS monitoring on top of his conditioning coaching and training background from his past experience at Fulham and Blackburn. He will complement me and the team. Jarryd and Bodey will also take a step up in their respective roles. Collectively, it’s a pretty exciting group. It’s going to look different to the last 12 years at the Club, but I’m excited about it.”
Q. A few players had surgery at the end of the season. Who won’t be ready to start full training on day one of pre-season?
A. “Jared Petrenko (shoulder) had a positive visit to the surgeon last week. His recovery is progressing a bit better than anticipated, which is a really good sign. He should start running this week.
“Jason Porplyzia (ankles) is back running in a controlled environment on the Alter-G. He’ll progress gradually and hopefully return to full training just before Christmas. We won’t rush him because it’ll be a really good pre-season for him if we get it right.
“Tim McIntyre (shoulder) is pretty much ready to go. We’ll just monitor his contact in the next week or so. Matt Jaensch had surgery on his groin late in the season, so it might be two or three weeks before he’s out on the track. Ricky Henderson had surgery on his finger, so he won’t be in full training on Monday but he’ll still be able to run and do a lot of work. He’ll be drip-fed back into the program over the next few weeks.
“Bernie Vince has a sore shoulder. It’s minor and will only set him back 2-3 of weeks. It will give us a good chance to get him stronger in his lower body.
“Luke Thompson (ankle) will be a bit longer than the others. Luke saw the surgeon last week to get out of his moon boot. He’ll be able to start doing some work on the Alter-G and gradually build up his running. He should be back in full training in January.”