“It takes me longer to recover after a game than it used to,” says Manu Vatuvei, who is known as The Beast. Ice baths, a compression machine and an anti-gravity treadmill are some of the tools the 28-year-old winger uses to cope with the wear and tear on his body.
Training typically includes a morning skills session on the field and a couple of hours in the gym in the afternoon. “We do more gym work than when I first started playing,” he says.
“We used to do a lot of running and we’d get flogged pretty hard in training. Now it’s more scientific, with GPS units and heart rate monitors.” Vatuvei runs about 6km during a game, almost all high-intensity sprinting. It is his job to receive the ball from kick-offs and restarts and run full tilt at the opposition defence. “I’m bigger than most wingers [he is 189cm and 110kg], so I use my size and power rather than my speed,” he says. “I target one man and then try to run through him.”
THE QUAD KILLER
“Because my knees are so beat up, I work hard on strengthening my quads. The wall sit looks easy but it’s a killer.”