Warriors put press through paces in new gym

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 11:42 03/03/2013
Nathan Friend
JOHN SELKIRK/FAIRFAX NZ

Nathan Friend works out in the Warriors' new hypoxic chamber under the watchful eye of co-trainer Ruben Wiki.

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You could see the glint in the coach's eyes. The grins creeping across the players' faces. The nervous glances of journalists.

Last week the Warriors invited the media who cover them over the season - print journos, radio hacks and television reporters - to train in their brand-spanking-new gym at Mt Smart Stadium.

Perhaps only on the most subtle level, it was payback time. Now and then, a journalist's job is to be harsh on players and teams. Play poorly, cost your side victory - and you'll get raked over the coals.

That's the reality of being a sportsman. The reality of being a journalist? You're most likely not in the best shape of your life.

The long hours that a player will put in in the gym and running laps around a footy field, a journalist will spend in front of a computer, knocking out stories or perhaps knocking back a cold brew with a contact.

It makes for a wide range of physical oddities in the press corps - and one Warriors trainer, Ruben Wiki, took particular delight in running through the wringer.

Training on cycles in a high-altitude chamber was followed by a bit of "Wiki-love", aka burpees and torturous bear crawls. A round on the high-tech new weights equipment was up next.

It was bloody hard work. Though once a hard-working striker - think a Kiwi Robbie Fowler who never got his chance - for the Hamilton Wanderers' division one football team, I'll be the first to admit I'm hardly in peak condition these days.

Writing this the day following the training, the body is still aching. I asked Wiki what he thought about my chances at the club - maybe I could called up into the backline if there was an injury crisis?

"Hardly, mate," he said. "Maybe you could be a waterboy. And that's a maybe." I asked winger Bill Tupou the same thing. Laughter was the response.

Jokes aside - the new gym is a spectacular facility. The club has pumped nearly a million dollars into revamping it over the offseason, and it looks a treat with some custom-made equipment usually used by high-profile college American football programmes.

In contrast, the old gym had weights that would regularly  fall off the end of the bars. If the Warriors go well this season, it won't be the main reason for their success - but it will surely contribute.

What's that line by NBA cult hero Shaquille O'Neal? The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.

The Warriors are looking as fit and in-tune as I've ever seen them. Hats off to head trainer Carl Jennings, co-trainer Wiki, sports science boss Brad Morris and the team at the Warriors. They've got their side as fine-tuned as you could ever hope for starting a season.

They better bloody go well this year, after what they put me through this week. The Warriors got some payback on me but, be warned, each week in Sunday News, the pen is mightier than the sword.

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