Wales Fitness Coach, Andrew Hore, believes the French side to face Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday will have "power and speed to burn". The man who has worked alongside Wales Team Nutritionist, Dan Kings and Wales Team Physiotherapist, Mark Davies, to produce what is widely proclaimed as Wales's fittest squad to date, admits his side have some key physical attributes of their own.
"The French seem to produce natural rugby athletes, possibly due to their population and climatic enviorment," said the New Zealander. "As a result they always seem to have speed and power to burn, and individuals that can turn a game on its head. We in turn don't have that same population base nor the same climatic conditions, so we just have to keep working hard and making gains and things will come good.
"If we continue to grow the players in physical terms; we won't have the same highs and lows in performance and results. We will steadily improve and along with the improved structures being put in place both at the National and Regional levels the game in Wales will be something we can all be proud of everyday not just every now and then.
"We put in a good heavy week last week, we will now lighten the load and sharpen the players up in preparation for Sunday. Clearly it is a game in which we would all like to see a big performance."
Hore is not only in charge of the training regime for the Wales squad, he also coordinates fitness programmes throughout Welsh rugby at a regional
level. He works closely with the trainers at each of the regional teams and has been instrumental in ensuring a cohesive training programme which stretches across the top tier of Welsh rugby.
"If you compare the workload from this time last year to present day, its easy to see that the squad have come a long way," Hore continued. "They are recovering a lot quicker after games and have bounced back really well this week after such a heavy work load.
"They came back to camp this year stronger than last year and we are in constant contact with the regional trainers to ensure that the conditioning programme for each player is right all year round.
"We need to create a structure that picks players up early and we are getting that in place now with all the hard work that goes on at the regional level. With good communication and the idea that we must keep the players as our focus we will go some way to creating the kind of athletes we
need in the near future.
"We have five high calibre trainers in the regions and I take my hat off to each one of them. We have had significant improvements in key areas for most members of the squad, but there is always more you can do to improve your conditioning.
"The players have bought into the whole process and the key areas of improvement have been leg strength, anaerobic and aerobic fitness. Every player is different and they came to the squad with different strengths and weaknesses.
"We have ensured there is an all round balance at each region in order to produce rounded athletes. In the future, when they turn up to a Wales camp, we want the training to be all about fine tuning after the good work they have done with their regions.
"One thing we all need to remember is that we are just ending what is our first physical cycle. There are still a number of levels to go yet, so we can expect even further improvements; until we reach our physical peak. "
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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