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Head Coach Wayne Okell's thoughts.
Post Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:48 am
Posted by Services RL on Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:48 am
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Eddie Hemmings's Wig
Eddie Hemmings's Wig

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Location: Bristol
Armed Forces Preparations On Track

Former Wales national team assistant Warrant Officer PTI Wayne OKell made the step into coaching within the Forces 13 years ago, but he admits that this Summer’s Festival represents the most important period of his tenure.

“We’re feeling confident and our preparations have been very much on track. A lot of planning has gone into this tournament and we’ve ‘periodised’ the whole year,” explained OKell.

“We’ve recently, with our Strength & conditioning team from KettleBell UK, completed a comprehensive period of assessment, analysis and testing of the playing squad and we’ve collated all of that information.

“The players are now at the beginning of two five-week strength and conditioning cycles, which are personalised to each individual.

“In ten weeks we’ll test their endurance of that programme and we can then start shaving the squad down ahead of the tournament.

“I’ve coached at all sorts of levels, I was the assistant with the Wales national team for two years, and I’ve been on board as a coach with the Services for 13 years.

“But this year’s Festival is one of the most exciting challenges we’ve faced as a team.”

Further to their success in 2008, OKell has left no stone unturned in his preparations for this Summer’s tournament, as Great Britain pursue their dream of retaining their World Champions crown.

“I’d align the systems we have in place to those currently being utilised by clubs in the Super League and Championships.

“Our training environments are fantastic, and I’m treating my guys in the squad as semi-professional athletes.

“These players have given some of the semi-pro teams a real run for their money in competitions like the Challenge Cup - we’ve had coaches worried.”

OKell also noted the sport’s growing popularity within the Armed Forces, and the esteem in which it is held by servicemen.

“The level of discipline is very high as it’s what the guys have been brought up with. It’s instilled in these players.

“It’s quite well known in the forces that Rugby League is the number one sport which provides that link to operational capability. The evidence is all around you on the field.

“The teamwork, the courage, the physicality. You get all of that in the service and all of that on the field.

“It’s intense, and it’s an unbelievable thing to see in the flesh.”

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