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NRL: Canberra Raiders ready to feel the heat

Jarrod Croker feels the heat during a day game on the Gold Coast last March.

Jarrod Croker feels the heat during a day game on the Gold Coast last March. Photo: Getty Images

Canberra Raiders strength and conditioning coach Nigel Ashley-Jones would support a blanket NRL ban on early season day games, but says they'll have no excuses for again wilting in the March heat this year.

A traditional slow starter, Canberra has made improving its sluggish performances in hot weather a focus as it prepares for a round-one clash with North Queensland in Townsville.

The Raiders have won just three of 21 games in Queensland, and are acclimatising for the tropical north by training in the middle of the day.

Last season, Canberra lost its first two games, at Penrith and Gold Coast, both played in stifling temperatures.

At the time, Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said the NRL should consider playing only night games in the first month of the competition.

The proposal was backed by Raiders prop Brett White and former chairman John McIntyre, who described the Titans match conditions as ''like babies being locked in cars in car parks''.

Some players, including Shaun Fensom and Josh McCrone, lost more than four kilos in a match Canberra lost 36-0. Canberra also travels to tropical Darwin later in the season to play coach Ricky Stuart's former side Parramatta.

After North Queensland, Canberra faces Newcastle (away) and Gold Coast (home) at 6.30pm, before taking on Souths (away) at 2pm in round four.

The Raiders invariably make up ground when the mercury drops mid-season, but Ashley-Jones said they were unwilling to give rivals another head start.

''We don't make the decisions but I would support that [March night games] 100 per cent,'' he said.

''Studies are showing training in the heat increases your endurance capacity, and the first two rounds of last season the boys weren't ready for it.

''What we try and do all through pre-season is produce a fit club which has no excuses.

''The argument always is, is it dangerous and yes it potentially is.

''But if that's the kick-off times, we have to be ready for it.''

Most players have shed several kilograms to help endurance, and will put on more weight as the season enters the cooler months.

''My philosophy has always been for the guys to be nice and lean at the start of the year when it's a running game and teams aren't match fit,'' Ashley-Jones said.

''We are going into this season leaner than we will be by Anzac Day when the weather turns, we want the body shape of players to suit the weather.

''The heat is something Ricky and I are especially focused on this year.''

Canberra's 20-12 trial win in Melbourne in stifling heat was ideal.


  • The most obvious problem with problem with Canberra is the coach.

    Since 2009, it the time he was at Cronulla and then Parramatta ,Ricky Stuart has had a shocking win statistic of 20.9%.....just about the worst in the NRL.....
    Unless a team has a coach with a win ratio in excess of 55% then they are no chance of a premiership.
    coaches with poor win ratios include Stuart,Arthur,Potter,Elliott,Cartwright,Sharpe,(Flanagan),Griffin,Price,Cleary

    Statistically most the teams in the comp have no chance......makes the odds of picking the winner a whole lot easier.......
    Its all in the numbers

    Little Tom
    North Sydney
    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 8:06AM
    • So what you are saying is teams that win more games are more likely to win the premiership.

      Geez, you might be on to something here.

      Bleeding obvious
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:42AM
    • Sorry, I'm a little confused by your comment of coaches not winning premierships... Did not Ricky Stuart win a premiership?

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:54AM
    • Ricky is no Freddy or Beaver. i.e. he isn't pulling on the boots.

      The players are the one's on the field. It's them who win or lose games.

      Nothing like the naysayers getting in a few shots before a ball has even been kicked.

      Canberra Sea Eagle
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 9:32AM
    • The point is that while Stuart coached the Roosters to a premiership in 2002 .....12 years ago..

      .in the last 4 years he has had a shocking win rate while coaching the Sharks and the Eels......21 % wins and 79% losses......

      The figures highlight that Stuart is now a poor coach..the statistics are there for all to see.

      Stuart jumped ship from Parra after coaching them to a "woodenspoon"

      Does anyone out there think he is going to improve Canberra"s chances of winning the comp?
      Some people just don't like facing reality....
      and if I'm not mistaken a ball has already been kicked, in those trials last week end

      Little Tom
      North Sydney
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 10:08AM
  • I seem to be missing something here - when I read this article I thought it was about training and playing in the heat in the early part of the season. Don't tell me that this is being blamed on Ricky Stuart already when they haven't even statred!

    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 6:37PM
    • Wonder how the Pommy League champions will handle the heat on Saturday week?

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 10:53PM
      Comments are now closed

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