‘Hard work paying dividends’ — Hughes

Date published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FROM a strength and stamina point of view, Oldham RL players will easily cope with the challenges to come, says club fitness guru Mike Hughes.

As part-time professionals, Roughyeds players must juggle private lives with full-time work and rugby commitments, while facing 12 crucial Championship One games between now and the middle of August.
Starting with Sunday’s visit of Gateshead Thunder to Whitebank (1pm kick off), they go eight weekends without a break and in that time travel for games to Wrexham, Neath, Gateshead and Oxford.
It’s down to Hughes (26), on secondment from link club Salford City Reds, to make sure the players are strong, fit, fast, injury free and well fed.
With a masters degree in sports physiology from Liverpool John Moores University and six years’ experience in Salford’s backroom team, Widnes-born Hughes splits up his working week between both clubs.
He’s with the Roughyeds on match days, home and away, and at one training session per week as well as preparing each player’s individual programmes covering weights, supplements, general nutrition and all other aspects of physical conditioning for rugby players.
When he isn’t around at Whitebank his assistant Craig Thomas is.
They work closely with head coach Scott Naylor and his No 2 Lee Spencer, who believe there are two main reasons why the players head into this make-or-break period relatively free from injury —- use of the superb training facilities at Oasis Academy Oldham, combined with Hughes’s hard work and expertise in conditioning.
Said Naylor: “Liam Gilchrist’s calf strain is the only injury we’ve had all year and that’s mainly due to the prehab and rehab systems we have in place.
“It shows that what we are doing off the field in this regard is working well.”
Hughes said: “Everything we do is with a purpose. My role is to prepare the players to be better athletes.”
While qualifying, he spent six months in the States, first at IMG Academy in Florida, one of the leading sports performance academies in the world, and then doing mixed martial arts in Granite City, Illinois under the wing of the famous ‘Hit Squad’ run by former champion Matt Hughes.
With the knowledge he gained there, and with input from Naylor and Spencer, he developed innovative wrestling programmes, specially designed for rugby training, which Roughyeds players have been working on since pre-season.
Added Hughes: “We’ve created team spirit — and a very fit young squad. If we can keep it all together mentally we’ll do well over this extremely demanding two-month period.
“I don’t think there’s a fitter team in Championship One and I would say we are the equal of most sides in the Championship, and even ahead of some of them.”