Find out how Warriors player Adam Blair and trainer Alex Corvo get match-day ready
The new season of rugby league is set to kick off, so what better way to get season-ready than to chat to a Warriors player and expert trainer?
Having worked with some of the best teams in the NRL, Alex Corvo has garnered a solid reputation as one of the leading high-performance trainers in the field. Throughout his career, he’s worked closely with the Warriors exciting new addition, Adam Blair. With almost 300 games and over a decade playing professional rugby league, Blair has had an impressive career playing for the Melbourne Storm, Wests Tigers, Brisbane Broncos, as well as captaining the Kiwis at the international level.
Now the two are on NZ soil with the Warriors, hard at work getting ready for the new season. We chatted to them about how they get in top condition for game day, and their key pieces of advice for aspiring players.
How do you approach training?
For Alex Corvo, his philosophy when it comes to training is a simple one. “My job is to ensure that my staff and I present the players in the best physical condition that they can be to play football each week.”
That comes down a basic formula that he’s used throughout his career: performance = fitness - fatigue. “Players perform better the fitter they are.” His pre-season training is about getting the players in top condition ahead of the oncoming season. Training to minimise the fatigue that can come with a busy game schedule and travel is a big part of that.
At the end of the day, Corvo’s technique centres around the idea that the fitter players are, the better they’ll perform.
For Blair, coming into his 12th season, he understands the value of having expert trainers like Corvo on his side. “Every step and everything that we do is important in some sense when it comes to playing the game.” Having worked with Corvo for over a decade, Blair values having a strong, supportive trainer that can push him to perform at his best. “They’ve done all the research and they have all the science behind it. We turn up and attack whatever is put in front of us.”
What goes into a Warriors training week?
Balance is a big part of pre-season training. For Corvo, developing a strong training plan is crucial. This incorporates ‘on legs sessions’, like running sprints with ‘off legs’ like boxing, biking and wrestling. It also means balancing the hard training sessions with valuable recovery sessions, like regular massages and prehab sessions – strengthening and flexibility exercises to prevent injury.
As well as a strict training schedule, Blair pays attention to the other aspects of his life that affect his performance. Over the years, he’s learnt the value of a good nutrition plan that matches his training schedule.
A lot of that, he credits to his wife, a qualified nutritionist. “I’m quite lucky now that I understand how my body works and what I need to do and eat in preparation for week to week games. It’s a big part in how we perform. Now I’m able to make the right nutritional choices to help me perform at my best.”
How do you mentally prepare yourself for game day?
Mental training is another major part of getting players ready for the new season. To be prepared for the season, players are tested to work under high pressure and fatigue. “You’re put in a tough situation and you’ve got to be able to find your way out of it. You’ve got to be able to have your eyes up and see what’s in front of you,” says Blair.
“Everything we do on the training field is designed to test the players physically and mentally – to put them under the stress they’d encounter in the game,” Corvo says.
Both Blair and Corvo have learnt how important communication is during a game, so it’s become a part of their everyday training.
For Blair, “a big key in our game is communication. It’s one of the easiest things but it’s hard. So we train a lot on it, especially under fatigue and in tough situations. When the pressures put on you, people tend to go into themselves a lot and forget about the things around them and what works – obviously [in those moments] communication is big.”
So how does Corvo train players to stay mentally focussed? By giving them mental exercises while they train. Getting them to remember and record coloured markers as they run sprints means it challenges them to be switched on and and stay focussed.
Training on communication every day means that the players are mentally prepared for the pressures of game day.
What advice would you give to aspiring players?
For Corvo, his advice is always around commitment. “Don’t be disappointed. There will definitely be knock backs along the way. Stay on task and continue to work and improve. Pay attention to diet and training, as well as work ethic. Lastly, listen and ask as many questions as you can.”
Having worked with Blair since he was 17, Corvo has seen him develop this work ethic throughout his career. “Adam’s learnt some great lessons along the way. In the past, he’s admitted there’s things he needed to change, and he took it on board. Now with close to 300 games in his career, he’s become professional and smart in all that he does.”
Now 31 years old, Blair agrees with Corvo’s advice. “If I was going to give any advice, it would be the same advice I was given when I was 17: work hard and never give up on what you want. Looking back at my situation and the things I had to do to get where I was, it pretty much came down to hard work.”
For Blair, he’s faced a lot of challenges up until this point. Having taken over the family farm when he was just 12 years old after his father passed away, and then going to Australia by himself to play football at 16 years old. It’s hard work that has always pushed him through the tough times.
“I guess if you want it enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be. At the end of the day, it’s up to the individual and how much you want to succeed and where you want to go. You’ve got to have a drive, a goal and a vision of where you want to be – and you’ve got to tick all the boxes to get there. That takes a lot of hard work.”
How do trainers and players work together?
Having worked together in the NRL for over 10 years, Blair and Corvo understand the value of strong player and trainer relationships.
“I’ve got to ensure that they’re as physically prepared as they can be. Getting their feedback is good because it lets us trainers see things from the players’ perspective,” says Corvo.
“I think being a bit older, I understand my body a bit more. I can question a few things, and tell Alex what my body needs, and he listens and understands,” says Blair. “That way, if I think somethings not working for me, we can come to a compromise. But at the end of the day, I trust him because he’s the expert. I know that there’s always research or a tried and tested philosophy behind everything that we do.”
Are you ready to train hard?
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