Which sport celebrates the fact that its players have to run over five miles every game, endure multiple collisions that are the equivalent to being in a car crash, plus get the glory of diving headfirst repeatedly into cold, wet mud? That's right, rugby league. Often known as the most gruelling contact sport there is, it's no surprise that Bradley Wiggins said that rugby league players are as 'hard as nails'. So how do the players survive such a weekly ordeal? Here's how:
Preparation for rugby league games is often even more intense than the game itself. Key to this is pushing the body beyond its comfort zone in order to breed resilience and confidence. Getting a good level of variety in the workout is key to this.
Trainers in rugby league will often think nothing of making the players do 13kph on a steep gradient treadmill before switching over to do 1000m on a rowing machine and then another 1000m on a stationary bike. So next time you're checking the stats on your favourite team, do a little research and see who's been pulling their weight in the training sessions beforehand!
And then there is yoga, which may seem a somewhat genteel choice of exercise for such an extreme sport as rugby league. But many of the top players swear by the powers of yoga for improving flexibility, detoxification, and even as a stress relieving exercise.
POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE
Once you've got your body in top physical condition, it's nothing unless you've got the right mental attitude to go with it.
England hero Jamie Peacock is even an advocate of what's known as the Stockdale Paradox. This is named after the experiences of a captured Vietnam veteran who survived his ordeal through the 'realistic optimism' that states that there is always a way to triumph, just don't go expecting any miracles!
Keeping your body going for over eighty minutes of gruelling rugby is going to need some careful thought. And what nutrition you use to fuel your efforts is critical.
Many swear by miracle foods such as eggs that are packed full of high quality protein and B vitamins, or even broccoli which is great as a detoxifier. But beyond making sure you get some lean protein, some carbs and nutritious vegetables, the main thing is just to use common sense and not eat junk food!
Keeping yourself well hydrated is key in making sure your body performs well. Players such as Jamie Jones-Buchanan swear by simply drinking lots of water, whereas Wigan Warriors' superstar Sam Tomkins even has a special detox drink concocted from linseeds, lemon and boiling water. Perfect for cleansing the body before the next round of brutality!