Having flunked school, writing an essay after a gruelling pre-season boot camp was the last thing on Cory Jane's mind. "That was an absolute joke because I was tired and I failed school for a reason. I got in there and I was losing the plot as soon as I found out we were going to have to do a 500-word essay," the Hurricanes wing said yesterday.
Jane's question was about moral courage but he was so spent he didn't even know what he was writing and ended up choosing a topic closer to his heart - his childhood dream of one day becoming Superman.
"It had nothing to do with the question, I just thought I'd better write something down on paper. I've heard that a few of the essays were good that the guys wrote - but mine was terrible," the All Black said.
The essay was part of a rigorous training boot camp that put the Hurricanes team through its paces.
Yesterday the Hurricanes squad returned to more orthodox training after a punishing 12 hours of bonding and self-discovery dubbed "the longest day".
The boot camp began at Rugby League Park in Newtown at 9pm sharp on Sunday when New Zealand Army drill instructors began putting the players through a series of endurance tests.
After ranging from Mt Victoria to Stokes Valley in the dark and rain, the gutbuster ended at 9am at the Trentham Army Base with players' bodies and minds stretched beyond the limits of a mere Super Rugby game.
"The hardest thing was the army fullas were treating us like kids, yelling at us to keep us up, but I guess that's part of it," Jane said. "It was hard work but the boys stuck at it."
Former All Black hard man and navy physical training instructor Buck Shelford applauded the team for taking part in the slog session. "The military boys are used to doing things the hard way whether it be navy, army or air force. For the rugby boys to do something outside their comfort zone like this is really good because when the going gets tough in some of those big matches it doesn't come down to physicality, it comes down to how mentally tough they are."
Jane agreed with the former All Black captain: "This is all about mental toughness . . . it's just testing how strong your mind is. The end of the game is where it really comes in - the last 10 to 20 minutes where the game's getting tough, things aren't going right, you look back at this kind of camp and think you keep sticking at it, keep working hard and don't give in."
The Hurricanes will test the worth of their pre-season activities when they play the Blues in Masterton on Saturday, a squad that will feature high profile former rugby league star Benji Marshall.
- The Dominion Post
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