Run or be run over; that is the new mantra held by the Tumut Eagles in their preparation for the upcoming Pascoe Cup competition.
After Football Wagga Wagga enforced a substitution rule for 2020 season, teams are now limited to only five changes per game, placing a higher value on the aerobic fitness of squads.
Eagles coach Matthew Lopez, who has been working his team for the upcoming season, is hoping players work in with the current training regime.
Additionally, Lopez wants his players working at their own rate away from football to ensure they are fit and firing for the season proper, which commences with a home game on April 5.
“Every individual is different and every position has its own fitness demands,” Lopez said.
“I have put the onus and responsibility on everyone to reflect on their own fitness and self regulate whether they need extra focus or time on their ability to last a match.”
Lopez was blunt in saying that he wasn’t a fan of the new substitution rule implemented by Football Wagga Wagga at the beginning of this year, suggesting it could come at the detriment of smaller clubs such as Tumut.
“I’m not a huge fan of it to be honest,” Lopez said.
“It’s a rule that potentially will negative impacts on the smaller, weaker clubs with less depth who need to rotate players for a variety of reasons.
“It also makes it more difficult to introduce younger players to the rigors of first grade. The stronger clubs will neither be inhibited nor profit from it, but I think the smaller clubs may struggle, including ourselves.”
Lopez has taken a unique approach to getting the Eagles fit and ready, accompanying running with match play, in the hope of getting his squad to match fitness by the start of the season.
“I’m using a match fitness based approach, incorporating fitness through match practice, rather than flat out fitness and running for the sake of running,” he said.
“We play 20 minutes of a game, followed by an extra long effort run, straight into another 20 minutes of match play.
“I like this form of practice; it’s fitness hidden behind game play.”
Additionally, Lopez and the Eagles are hoping to get their players along to the Aquathon at Tumut Swimming Pools on Sunday; another unique approach to training.
“We are hoping to get positive numbers to The Gym’s Aquathon on the weekend as a part of our training,” he said.
The Tumut Eagles, who lost a lot of players during the off-season, still have strong numbers attending training and Lopez is still hopeful of fielding three grades.
“I would say we have seen 25-30 different faces (and) a couple of new faces,” Lopez said.
“We are getting there and are on the cusp of three teams, just not there yet.”
The Tumut Eagles train every Tuesday and Thursday at the Bull Paddock between 6.30-7.30pm.
New and former players are encouraged to come along and get involved.