Warrington Wolves players were pushed to their absolute limits after a pre-season army training camp with Ant Middleton.
The former special forces soldier and chief instructor on SAS: Who Dares Wins put the team through their paces with intense hiking, swimming and climbing exercises aimed at developing mental toughness and team bonding.
It gave the team its first glimpse into life under the guidance of new head coach Sam Burgess, a former England international who secured victory in the Australian version of the show in 2021.
Burgess said: “I think the lads had a tougher time than when I was on the show.
“It gave me a good look at them. We can see a bit more of their character when they’re under a bit more duress and you get to see more of the person without all the egos and bravados.
“I think I know the team better now and they know each other better so hopefully it will pay us back down the line.”
Encountering classic challenges from the show, the squad tackled tasks such as the 10k tyre run in the dead of night.
Fullback Matty Ashton said: ”I think the most brutal thing for me was me and Conor Wrench had to keep a fire going through the night.
“He came over at 3am and made us go on a 10k trial with a tyre. It was pushing ourselves to the limits.”
After a disappointing sixth-place finish last season, Burgess took over from Darly Powell as Warrington head coach in July.
And the new manager was not afraid to get involved completing 68 out of the 70k the rest of the team ran.
Wolves captain Stefan Ratchford said: “Credit to Sam and most of the coaching staff and did a lot of it with us.
“It’s hard physically and mentally, everyone goes through the peaks and troughs and you have to support people when they are feeling down.”
Without their phones, Ratchford noted that the players forged deeper connections and spurred increased communication and camaraderie within the team.
Warrington begin their campaign with a trip to the South of France to face Catalan Dragons on February 17.
Feature image: Rob Lawton via WikiCommons