They’re back: NRL clubs begin preseason
THE 2019 season hasn't even officially ended yet but NRL clubs are already returning to off-season training to prepare for 2020.
Canterbury players will walk through the Belmore Sports Ground gates this morning while Gold Coast and North Queensland are also expecting players back today.
Newcastle's playing group will reconvene after their off-season break on Wednesday while Penrith and St George Illawarra start their summer training programs next Monday.
A group of New Zealand Warriors rookies started back to training in Auckland last Friday.
Given Wests Tigers trained through until the grand final, sections of their playing roster aren't due back until November 17.
All these clubs failed to reach the 2019 finals series.
Most clubs have scattered return dates with international players contesting the Oceania Cup - which is still being played - not due back until early December.
While it seems so early given the grand final was just 29 days ago, most players from these clubs haven't played or trained since early September - eight weeks ago.
Bulldogs coach Dean Pay confirmed his club would return to training today but stressed senior players still had another fortnight off.
"Our boys have had a really good break - they have all been away and I have spoken to a few of them. They are ready to come back," Pay told The Daily Telegraph.
"But we are staggered. We have young blokes coming in (today) but the older blokes don't start for another couple of weeks.
"I've got about 15 younger blokes that we think are the future so we will put a bit of time into them. They will be the first ones to come back.
"There will be another group of about 15 to come back on November 13 and then there's another group on the 20th. The boys that are still playing will be back after that. They still have another couple of weeks off, it's been a good break for them.
"Most of the payers are pretty good - you don't have to worry about blokes coming back out of shape. They will be in good nick.
"After Christmas when we come back, the Nines are on, the indigenous game is back on so we have some travel to do before the season starts. It will go quick for us."
Canterbury won seven of their last ten games this year, setting a positive platform to kickstart 2020.
"The most important thing was that we got better towards the end of the season," Pay said. "A lot of our younger blokes got some more NRL into them. They started understanding about preparing each week and putting their best performance in each week. We just have to build on that."
New Titans coach Justin Holbrook is expected at training today with Adam O'Brien taking over the Knights from Wednesday.
New assistant coach David Furner was monitoring the Knights squad while O'Brien finished his commitments as Sydney Roosters assistant through the NRL finals.
FIRST CLUBS BACK TO TRAINING
Canterbury: About 15 rookie players return Monday morning. Senior players back Wednesday, internationals to return early December.
North Queensland: Return Monday in Townsville.
Penrith: Back next Monday.
St George Illawarra: First group return next week, starting Monday.
New Zealand: Group of rookie players returned on Friday. Senior players back in waves with internationals returning in December.
Wests Tigers: Lower tier players back November 17, senior players a week later. Squad trained through until grand final.
Newcastle: Back this Wednesday under Adam O'Brien.
Gold Coast: Return Monday under Justin Holbrook in Robina, some players on reduced workloads.