New beginning...Hooker Manase Fainu training with the NRL squad this week. Photo: Sean O'Sullivan.
Pushing through the mental barrier of pre-season training is what Coach Trent Barrett is looking for from his talented crop of youngsters.
Jade Anderson, Tevita Funa, Manase Fainu, Keith Titmuss, and Haumole Olakau'atu – fresh from playing in Manly’s premiership winning Holden Cup team – are getting their first taste of NRL pre-season training alongside new signing Luke Metcalf, who enjoyed a fine year for the Cronulla Sharks NYC team.
Fainu, Metcalf, Olakau'atu, and Titmuss are eligible for Manly’s Jersey Flegg team (U20s) next season.
Barrett said the intensity of the senior training sessions had not been lost on the youngsters just two weeks into pre-season training.
“I look at more of their attitude in that they don’t give up. They have had no first grade pre-season experience before and they are competing with guys who have been doing this training for anywhere between three and 10 years,’’ Barrett said.
“The days are long and they are hard. It is much a mental test as it is a physical one.
“We know their bodies are not at the level as say a Daly Cherry-Evans is, but it is more the mental side of it I’m looking at.
“I don’t want blokes here who are going to give up. I want blokes who we can rely on and that’s what we need to find out.
“We know these guys have got ability but I need to find out whether they are going to be able to play consistent NRL.
“The big thing is that they don’t waste a session. Every day is important and you can’t get it back.”
Barrett said the intensity of the training sessions under Dan Ferris (Head of Physical Performance) have gone to another level from last season, making it even more demanding on the younger squad members.
“The content of the sessions is similar but the level of intensity in trying to perfect the skill has gone up. It has to go up,’’ Barrett said.
“We are on the right track with what we are doing, and that was proven in the results we got this season, but we need to go from sixth to first. To do that, the intensity level of your training needs to increase in every session.
“There is a little bit more volume in there because they (NRL players) are getting used to how we train now. If you turn up for every session at the same intensity, then there is absolutely no reason why we won’t get better.
“That’s the goal for us, to get everything we can out of every gym session, every stretch session, every video session, and every field session. If you do that, you are going to get better.”