The Sharks management are taking no prisoners in their pre-season training, with consequences laid down for players who pack on a few extra pounds over the festive season.
Assistant coach Grant Bashford told the Sharks official website that over-indulgence will not be tolerated, especially after body fat percentages were taken this week.
He said: "We're going to be really hard on that this campaign, the guys will be going away over Christmas but will be given programmes to work from and there will be structures in place to take care of anyone who hasn't lived up to what they need to do for the coming season. We're going to take a hard line on that going into the new year.
"We have three weeks now until we break for Christmas and when we return in January, everyone's conditioning should be at a certain level," he warned.
With the players all experiencing different workloads in 2011 the Durban franchise has divided them into groups for the pre-season, rather than have all of them on the same conditioning programme.
"The players have all been put into different groups for different types of training – we've tried to be specific with who needs what.
"We also have a rehab group for recovering players because we had a few operations in the off-season. Everyone is doing exactly what we feel they need to do, we aren't using a generic system that everyone conforms to," Bashford explained.
Another change in the Sharks' approach to pre-season training is that they have introduced ball-skills a lot earlier, rather than concentrating solely on fitness as they have in the past.
"Skill work has been introduced early and every day there is ball play along with conditioning," said Bashford.
The backline coach said that new centre Tim Whitehead and utility back Riaan Viljoen have slotted in nicely at Kings Park, even though Whitehead has not been able to get fully into the swing of things yet.
"Unfortunately, Tim is still recovering, he's in the rehab group following an operation, but Riaan has been out on the field with the rest of the boys and doing well," he said.
The Sharks are keen to ensure that they do not repeat mistakes that they have made in the past and Bashford revealed that there will be some serious planning in Durban ahead of the new season.
He said: "We will sit down with the group to discuss strategies, what's worked well for us and what hasn't and the way forward.
"We have a very experienced squad, so empowerment is vital, these guys have been around the block and played at a high level – most of them are Springboks – so they will have a say in what we do and how we do it. A campaign can't be run without empowerment," Bashford added.
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