Shaun Wane says Wigan’s players have returned fitter than ever... and he has the figures to prove it.
The Warriors players are now into their second-week of pre-season.
Gruelling gym sessions, punishing fitness programmes, wrestling work and skills drills have been the order of the day as Wane prepares them for a crack at glory in 2018.
And he has been delighted with the condition in which “98 per cent” of his players have returned.
He said: “The players are doing double field sessions and double weights sessions.
“We’re working long days and six-day weeks. It’s tough, but enjoyable.”
Wane and his staff have pored over figures from the opening day’s VO2 Max testing – which checks players’ base-line fitness – and from the gym and training field.
“And all the data tells us they’re in a better place than this time last year, which is great,” said Wane, overseeing his seventh pre-season as head coach.
“There’s been a big improvement, which is good to know the players took their time off seriously.
“They have come back in great shape, and 98 per cent, I’m really happy with.”
Asked about the other two per cent, he replied: “They’re in early in the morning (for extra training).”
Wane praised his staff – including director of performance Mark Bitcon and strength and conditioning coach Paul Johnson – for their work during this critical stage.
He said the schedules had been tweaked from previous years.
“We’ve gone back to basics a bit,” he said. “This is going to be a real pre-season – they will run longer, lift heavier.
“It’s going to be a tough one.”
Five senior players are missing due to World Cup duty – England trio Sean O’Loughlin, John Bateman and George Williams, as well as Micky McIlorum (Ireland) and Thomas Leuluai (New Zealand).
Fringe players Jack Higginson (Ireland) and Romain Navarrete (France) were also away.