Tom Catterick gets a kick out of pre-season pain at Newcastle Falcons

Two weeks into Newcastle Falcons' pre-season, full-back Tom Catterick is smiling his way through fitness training

Newcastle Falcons fly half Tom Catterick
Newcastle Falcons' Tom Catterick

Some masochists have that dark corner of their psyche that enjoys the torture of pre-season – Newcastle Falcons’ full-back Tom Catterick among them.

The 23-year-old has been among the bodies being flogged in the gym, beasted round the running track and hauled up the pain-inflicting inclines of the Town Moor hill.

But for all the sweat and soreness, he would have it no other way.

“I am one of those people who does actually enjoy this time of year,” said the former England Under-20s cap, looking to find a niche in Dean Richards’ Premiership side after a bitty last season.

“I lived with Chris Pilgrim for a couple of years, who has now gone to Leeds, and he got me into the whole philosophy around training and really trying to push on with it. It is always hard and there are a lot of sore bodies, but it has to be done.”

Returning with a fully-charged mind and similarly supplemented legs, Catterick turned down the offer of 50-degree heat at his parents’ house in Kuwait to remain local during a month of replenishment.

He said: “I didn’t go very far this summer and just stayed local, but it was good to chill out and come back fresh for pre-season.

“After a year like the last one we don’t want a repeat, and having that mental freshness is almost as important as the physical aspect when the campaign is so draining. You have to switch off during the summer for a short while, but we are back into it now and putting the groundwork in.”

That they most certainly are, a frantic first day seeing them tested to the hilt as both mind and matter were pushed to the limit.

“We had a yo-yo test, a treadmill test and a 1600m test,” he revealed.

“It was pretty tough, and a few of the boys’ bodies were in bits.

“The yo-yo is basically a bleep test with extra metreage you have to cover, and the levels go up quicker. On the treadmill test you put it on full incline and run for as long as you can on 13km per hour, and they even put mats behind it in case the lads fall off!

“The 1600m test is self-explanatory in that you just run it as fast as you can, but needless to say it was not easy!”

With tailored programmes and individual benchmarks to hit, Catterick added: “Our conditioner Kev McShane sets the targets for each player, so you have to come back for pre-season and reach a certain level.

“If not then you have to do extras during the week, and then obviously there are players in your position you want to be better than or competing with.

“Unfortunately with me being a full-back that means I am up against Alex Tait, who is a freak of nature.

“He doesn’t do anything during the summer, and then smashes us all in the tests!”

Merging fitness with on-field acumen even during the early stages, he said: “This year we are linking the rugby training in a bit more with our fitness, and there will be a lot more conditioning games.

“On our down days, or our days with less workload, we will be out on the field getting our game-plan in early. Running might be enjoyable to a certain extent, but rugby players want that ball in their hands.

“It will help us have more of an understanding of our game by the time we get into the pre-season matches, and everyone is pretty positive about the year ahead.

“We have just drawn a line under what happened last year.”


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