Teaching Sea Eagles to fly
Friday 21 December 2012 2:11 PM
The Sea Eagles aren't fast by accident. The explosive acceleration, electric footwork and blinding pace that lead to tries are all the result of strenuous work and minute focus on technique, all guided by one man. Speed coach Rubin Ruzicka is the man responsible for keeping the Sea Eagles flying.
Brought in by head coach Geoff Toovey at the start of the 2012 season, Ruzicka got to work instantly refining the Sea Eagles' running technique, not just making sure they run faster but smarter too.
Straight line speed is tough enough to develop, with hours of work needed to shave milliseconds off your times. But add in the need to stop and start, avoid defenders and maintain field awareness and the equation grows even more complicated.
Watch the video above to see how Rubin cranks up the Sea Eagles' speed.
As a result, the speed coach's role is just as reliant on technique and mental focus as is it on physical effort. The squad spends sessions after session working on flexibility, core strength and running position; rebuilding their stride before taking to the field.
An efficient running technique not only means faster players but less fatigue, which is invaluable during the season.
Ruzicka also plays a big part in the rehabilitation process for injured players. He's worked closely with Ben Farrar and David Williams in particular in 2012, slowly rebuilding strength in their knees and getting them back to playing speed.
It's due to the combined efforts of Ruzicka, high performance analyst Brendan Inkster and physiotherapist Andre Rickenbach that our wounded warriors are able to return to the field so quickly and in such good condition.
There's plenty to do on game day too, with Ruzicka constantly moving between players in warm up, stretching and tweaking to prepare them for the intensity of a match.
He's got his hands full but with a complete pre-season up his sleeve, Ruzicka's predicting big, quick things for the Sea Eagles in 2013.
So next time Steve Matai turns a defender inside out or Brett Stewart burns past the opposition to score, save some of your cheers for Rubin.