St George Illawarra Dragons Head of Medical and Performance Tony Ayoub provides an update on the team’s preparation following the conclusion of the first phase of pre-season training.
The Red-and-Whites have been without the services of several players throughout the first bloc of pre-season training due to surgical procedures that were required during the off-season.
Dragons trio Josh Dugan (neck), Benji Marshall (ankle) and Will Matthews (shoulder) have only recently commenced their respecting conditioning programs but Ayoub admits he is pleased with how each player has responded to their programs.
“All the guys who have had off-season surgery are almost where we want them,” said Ayoub.
“We couldn’t be happier with Josh and he is going along really well with his rehabilitation program.
“He is in and out of the main group and while he is not doing any contact work at the moment he is highly involved in all the skills sessions.
“We had originally earmarked for him to return in early-to-mid January but he was responding so well to everything we were throwing at him with his fitness that we brought his scheduling forward.
He had been previously smashing it in the cardio-altitude room and he too was also keen to get back out on to the field.
“Josh will commence his contact training upon his return which again we hadn’t earmarked until mid-to-late January so he is well ahead of schedule.
“Benji is another player coming along in leaps and bounds and looks very fresh and sharp.
“His ankle range is fabulous and up along where it needs to be and we are quite happy with his strength.
“Come January once he has some kilometres under his belt there will be no issues with what he can and cannot do.
“Will is looking a lot bigger through the shoulders as he had previously been really restricted with movement around that area.
“He had returned after his surgery a little bit stiffer than what we expected but since then his strength has really come back due to his sessions in the gym and he is doing all the contact sessions as well.”