Rugby Union - Wallabies Fit For World Cup

By Mike Hurst
THE Wallabies may have found the missing link to their World Cup campaign just a fortnight out from the tournament opener against Argentina in Sydney.
Australian rugby union team strength and conditioning coach Jason Weber said the Wallabies are at last ready to run out an entire game.
Ironically it was the All Blacks’ 50-21 Bledisloe Cup win on July 26 that won the day for Weber.
In only his first year as fitness boss for the Wallabies, Weber admitted: I've sort of had a standing battle with [Wallabies head coach] Eddie Jones, in the best sense of the word. I respect Eddie.
He's the best coach I've ever worked for, but he's a man you need to really make an excellent case to. Although we were competitive with England, the Kiwis just blew us away that first hitout. The first 30 minutes of that game we were in there and then after that they just took us apart.
Actually on that night I proved a few things to him [Jones]. I basically said: `We've lost our running ability.' I’ve argued it with Bob Dwyer [Waratahs coach], I’ve argued with Dave Nucifora [Brumbies coach], all of them.
So Eddie's concluded: `Right. You're absolutely right. Lets get on with it.' So I’ve had to get a little bit more volume work in.
We did some testing work with the World Cup squad on Monday. They've come up with really sharp results. I’m very confident we’re right back in the mix.’’
Using heart-rate monitors, Weber confirmed that during sustained periods of play, some lasting several minutes, player pulse rates rose into a band of 175 to 185 beats a minute, some 20 beats higher than some men had produced in training.
It was in that higher band where players’ technique broke down as they became severely fatigued as their primary energy source flipped over from aerobic into anaerobic.
Kenneth Graham, chief sports scientist at the NSW Institute of Sport, explained: It's like dial a training response. At any intensity of maybe 10-beat bands there is a certain benefit. If you haven’t trained in that band, you haven’t got the specific adaptation. Depending on how intense the band is, you can survive only for shorter periods.’’
Tolerance to a target band requires two weeks of specific training, but four weeks to retain the effect for several months.
Although Weber immediately introduced more specific running-based endurance training, the core of the Wallabies remedial fitness work has come since August 25.
It's nuts and bolts stuff. We've been pushing full lactate tolerance and also lactate power: getting the boys to be able to handle as much crap in their blood as possible. And then also bumping high-end aerobic stuff for those guys who need it.’’
But how did it come to this?
Weber explained: Basically Australian rugby has taken the wrong path in the last couple of years. We've focused a lot on the technical aspects of rugby and forgotten the physicality that's required.'' By August 17 Weber's change to more appropriate training was reflected in the Wallabies' narrow 21-17 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland. As far as I’m concerned the boys have done an excellent job over the last eight weeks,’’ Weber enthused.
You can see the difference from when we played New Zealand the first time to the last time we played them. We crossed the line four or five times [in Auckland]. Due to lack of skill or whatever we couldn’t get the ball down but mate, you’re there, you’re presenting the opportunity.
Next time, if a bit more luck goes our way or whatever, we'll take those opportunities.'' The bulk of this high-end aerobic training should have been four months ago. Because aerobic threshhold training and maximum velocity training are awkward bedfellows the risk for the Wallabies now is they will lose their explosive strength. But Weber's tests indicate the Wallabies are winning their juggling act. We’ve done a lot of work based around managing velocity. Not working at a speed so slow that we’ll move away from that nice neurological punch,’’ Weber said.
We've got a five-week cycle coming now, even though that will overlap into pool games. We're going to be ready for Argentina. Our outside backs just finished a speed session and they're moving well, moving sharp. I’d say we’re about a fortnight away from hitting our top. We’ll come up for Argentina. Then probably stick a little more work in and come up again in a month for Ireland.’’

Great post Kitkat.