It's just six weeks after the National Rugby League grand final and the first wave of North Queensland Toyota Cowboys are back in the gym in preparation for a new campaign.
Under the watchful eye of Cowboys High Performances Unit staff, a small group of development and post-op players – Enari Tuala, Jake Clifford, Shaun Hudson, Josh Chudleigh, Carlin Anderson, Emry Pere and Mitch Dunn – have started their pre-season training following an extended break.
Strength and conditioning coach Ash Graham said the squad's staggered return to pre-season training would continue over the coming weeks.
“For the first couple of weeks, we’ve got mainly the development guys and the rehab guys in here training,” Graham said of the seven players reporting for duty last week.
“We’ve done some strength stuff in the gym, then the players did some skinfold tests. The next day we went outside for the first time and did a little bit of conditioning, and now we’re back in the gym for a bit of a top-up.
“The rest of the squad will come back on staggered dates. On the 20th, we’ll get another chunk of players back, and then a couple of weeks after that a few of the older boys will come in.
“In the next three to four weeks, we should have most of the squad back training.”
The exception to that would be the Cowboys’ Rugby League World Cup quartet of Michael Morgan, Jordan McLean (both Australia), Te Maire Martin (New Zealand) and Jason Taumalolo (Tonga), who will all be back at the club in January.