Members of the Ulster squad kickstarted their pre-season training regime at Barnett Demesne in Belfast last Friday, under the watchful eyes of operations director David Humphreys and the province’s strength and conditioning staff, Jonny Davis and Paul Hatton.
The first batch of returning Ulster players took to the hills at Barnett Demesne in South Belfast, for a gruelling first week of pre-season training.
A new addition to Ulster’s pre-season training is the use of GPSports technologies. The tracking and analysis technology is used to improve a player’s personal performance and decrease injuries.
Each player wears a GPS tracker while they train, which then sends back live feeds to the computer and IRFU analyst.
The tracker monitors everything from heart rate, oxygen levels, work rate and performance, to potential injury risks.
The technology is used by some of the best sports teams in the world including New Zealand, the Lions, AC Milan and Chelsea.
Ulster captain Rory Best has a busy summer on his hands. He skippered Ireland for their two recent Test wins over Canada and the USA, is now back training with his province and preparations are also well underway for his wedding and honeymoon next month.
Best said: “After Ulster’s season ended, I then went on tour with Ireland. It was great craic, and strange to be on an Ireland tour with so many Ulster players, but it was all very interesting.
“Vancouver was definitely the highlight and somewhere I’d love to go back to. After the tour I spent two nights in Las Vegas, with 8 or 10 of the other guys, including Cavey (Darren Cave).
“It was very good, but definitely two nights was all my bank manager could stand!
“I got just two weeks off after the tour, which means I’ll train for four weeks before getting the other two weeks of my holidays off for my wedding and honeymoon in July, and then it’s back to training.”
Thomas Anderson, one of Ulster’s talented young forwards, is also back to the hard slog of summertime training.
“I was injured towards the end of last season so I was eager to get back training, but before pre-season started I took a week’s holiday to Ibiza,” said the 2007 Under-20 Grand Slam winner.
“When I got back I just had an easy week off around the house, and went to the gym a couple of days. I also got in a few rounds of tennis and have to mention playing Declan Fitzpatrick, and beating him 2 sets to 1.
“I came back a week early to pre-season and tested all the equipment and activities with Paul Hatton and JD, which I thought would give me an edge, but turns out not…due to the first week of pre-season being extremely difficult!
“However it’s good to have the lads back so you know others are going through the pain barrier with you.”