Hearts racing as Super 14 opener looms

PUBLISHED: February 6, 2008

Three months of preparation will soon come to fruit as the Vodacom Stormers get ready for week one of the 2008 Vodacom Super 14.

Much has been said about the team’s preparation, their decision to play only one warm up game against Boland, and the fact that supporters and competitors have seen little of what can be expected come 16 February, when they face defending champions the Bulls at Newlands.

Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus cancelled his second warm up game against a Vodacom WP invitational XV last weekend, but was confident that his charges would be well prepared.

“We have been preparing the team since November last year and have incorporated enough full contact sessions into our training schedule to be comfortable that the players are contact fit,” said Erasmus.

The implementation of the new laws will require a fit and well conditioned team. The Vodacom Stormers have two fitness and conditioning coaches in Jacques Nienaber and Greg Hechter, who have been monitoring their every move.

“The players wear heart rate monitors during training and games,” explained Hechter. “It is the ideal way to monitor player workrate in a game, and during pre-season it enables us to monitor workload and intensity.”

The use of the heart rate monitors is not new to the Vodacom Stormers set up. The coaching staff made use of it during training sessions last year, but only once a week. Now each player is monitored in every single training session and game.

“It will show us if there is an improvement in a player’s fitness, if he is able to perform the same exercise at the same intensity at a lower heart rate,” explains Hechter.

“We will look at things like maximum and minimum heart rate, calories used during the session, average heart rate, duration the of session and percentage heart rate,” says Hechter. “For example, we can see that a player trained at an average of 72% of his maximum for 67 minutes.”

Together with this science, as well as the hard work both on and off the field, the Vodacom Stormers will head into week one rest assured that they have prepared well for arguably the most demanding 14 weeks in world rugby.