‘Underdone’ players at huge injury risk
Ahead of the NRL's expected return to full contact training this week, former head coach Neil Henry says clubs should know the risks of going "too intense, too early".
Henry helped develop the TackleSafe Program and the Player Development Framework for junior rugby league players - based on his decade-long experience as an NRL coach.
The former Cowboys and Titans head coach congratulated the game for getting back underway but warned players could be "underdone" following the game's six-week hiatus.
Players were left to their own accord during the COVID-19 break to continue training, whether at home or at the local park.
Henry said the players would have missed out on the intensity of regular NRL training sessions while in isolation and clubs should avoid going too hard too early.
"One thing you can't get when you're training on your own is the intensity you get at training as a group," Henry said.
"That's where the players will be underdone, in the intensity and real physical nature of the competition.
"Clubs will be getting into that and building for that.
"Everyone's going to be a bit underdone. Whether that translates into injuries, who knows. Time will tell.
"The club's strength and conditioning coaches are across all of that and they wouldn't want to burn their players by being too intense, too early and picking up some injuries at training."
Training returned last week in a modified format - with groups of just 10 and no tackling allowed.
Broncos star recruit Brodie Croft - who has been recovering from a shoulder injury from Game 2 - last week said he believed players needed to go back to full contact training to prepare for the brutality of the NRL.
Henry said the standard of play in the early rounds may be affected because of the disrupted break and shortened "pre-season".
"The quality of the football in the early rounds might not be as it was at the start of the year but it won't take long for the clubs to pick up and get into producing some quality footy," Henry said.
"Everyone is in the same boat and at the same level as everyone else.
"It might take a few weeks to get the quality back into the football as teams gain match practice when we kick back into the new format of the season."
Originally published as 'Underdone' players at huge injury risk