Warren Gatland has revealed a series of brutal training exercises, that he put his Wales squad through during their early Rugby World Cup fitness training camp last month.
The exercises sounded like something straight out of an SAS Training Programme, with his players enduring tasks like putting hoods over their heads, and being doused with water. This camp took place in Taff’s Well, Cardiff last month, ahead of Gatland’s training camps in Switzerland and later Turkey.
Another task included the Wales players swimming deep under water, up to depths of 15m down. Wales and Ospreys prop Nicky Smith is said to have battled through his fears during this tough exercise. Wales Online reported what Gatland had to say on the unorthodox training methods.
“The goal was to put the players in an uncomfortable position mentally because there are times during matches when things do not go your way. The best teams are the ones that find solutions under pressure.
“One of the tasks involved the players swimming under water for about 15 metres when they were already in a ‘stressed’ condition from exercise.
“The challenge was for the players to be able to control their breathing. People can hold their breath for a lot longer than they can think, but when you are in a stressed condition, the reaction is to gasp for air. If you have ever jumped into a freezing cold pool on holiday, you will know what I mean.
“Our prop Nicky Smith really struggled at the start with this exercise. But he did not give up despite failing at the start. The other players, seeing that he had struggled but was still going back for more, gathered around and cheered him on. At the third attempt he completed the task.
“He had first resisted and then mastered his own fear. And seeing his team-mates congratulate him at the end proved to me we are in a good place mentally.”