Folau is back bigger and faster for NRL - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Folau is back bigger and faster for NRL

By Wayne Heming 02/02/2010 07:36:05 PM Comments (0)

A new, even speedier Israel Folau looks set to be unleashed on the NRL this season with coach Ivan Henjak's project to fine tune the flyer now in its second year.

Working closely with physical performance director Dean Benton, the pair identified some weaknesses in Folau's running technique and set about fixing it.

They now have the 102kg Folau running faster than when he arrived at the club for the 2009 season, and, more remarkably, six months after suffering a very serious injury.

Folau fractured his fibula in July but bravely managed to get back on the field for the club's finals campaign.

"It was tough coming back. I wasn't really ready but the club was in a pretty desperate situation," Folau said on Tuesday.

"I know I probably didn't play my best footy when I came back but I wanted to help my teammates."

While Benton keeps players' performance and testing details under lock and key, he said Folau's improvement in speed would be like new prop Scott Anderson running as fast as winger Jharal Yow Yeh, the quickest player in the club.

Benton also implemented a specialised training program to fit Folau's body type and workload which has also turned out to be a winner.

"We took an approach of endurance through speed, rather than speed through endurance," explained Benton, who likes to keep up to date with the latest theories in fitness.

"As the old saying goes, if you have a Ferrari you don't plough fields with it."

The youngest player to wear the green and gold for Australia and already a six game Origin veteran, Folau is showing the benefits of the first full pre-season of his career.

Normally he's on representative duty and returns to training late.

"Representative commitments have restricted the length of Israel's pre-seasons over the past few years," Benton said.

"You should never make the mistake of assuming a representative player is necessarily advanced in their physical qualities and Israel has certainly benefited from having an extended pre-season this year.

"Summing up, I think it's fair to say he is not a talented, gangly kid anymore.

"He is much more explosive and ballistic as an athlete - let alone a footballer."

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