Top rowing pair plotting careful path

The all-conquering world champion pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond aren't yet wrapping themselves in cotton wool – but avoiding injury is top of their "Things to Do" list.

Less than two months out from the start of the 2010 World Rowing Championships regatta at Lake Karapiro, Murray and Bond are wary that any injury could derail a perfect season.

"The key thing is staying injury-free, as that has been a problem in the past, especially for Bondy," Murray said this week.

Bond overcame a rib injury earlier this season as the defending world champs won all three finals at the World Cup regattas in Munich and also captured the men's pair title at the Henley Royal Regatta.

"So the structure of our training recently has seen us spend less time on the water and more in the gym and on the rowing machines.

"The amount of effort put in on the water takes a bit of a toll on us, Hamish especially. He's such an incredible athlete and goes so hard, that's when he starts breaking down.

"So we've been doing more ergs and our fitness levels are through the roof."

Murray said the pair recently underwent tests on their muscle and bone percentage.

"The tests showed that Hamish has got quite brittle bones, while I'm on the higher scale, so that accounts for more stress on the bones for him."

While their on-the-water training still mostly consists of heavy mileage under the guidance of coach Richard Tonks, Murray's not certain when the switch towards speed work will come ahead of the champs.

"I wouldn't have a clue – we're just going day by day with Richard," Murray said.

"We're still doing long rows, throwing in a few bursts here and there. We've been training with the women's quad and they're going really great.

"It's a little surprising because they're a totally new crew but they're really pushing us."

The pair had been looking forward to a change in scenery at training, with plans for the New Zealand elite to head to Sydney for a lengthy spell.

However, the idea was scrapped when Rowing New Zealand named 55 athletes in their squad for the world champs.

"There were just too many people and it was going to cost too much," Murray said.

"It's a bit of a shame as the Australians wanted to do some racing, like the winter series regattas we usually have here.

"The Europeans have their European champs in two weeks' time, so we were wanting to emulate them. We don't have a lot of crews in the same events but would do handicap racing, which would have gone down really well, but now we'll have to do it by ourselves."

And while Murray's at home, he's extremely wary that any minor mishap may prove horrendously costly.

"It's starting to get to that point.

"You just make sure you don't do anything silly, playing the fool. It's just relaxing when not rowing. To be out for three or four weeks now would be a complete disaster."

Waikato Times