After more than a decade at the Premiership coal face Dominic Waldouck says last Friday’s trip to the Northumbrian coast brought the most punishing session of his career.
The centre was part of a Newcastle squad which endured a lung-busting afternoon on the soft sand of Druridge Bay, the itinerary including hill runs, tug of war and all manner of pre-season pain.
“That was genuinely the toughest session I’ve had in my career,” said the former Premiership and Heineken Cup winner, who is going into his third season as a Falcon.
“It’s great to go through some tough times together as a squad, it strengthens the bond when you’re helping each other through, and last Friday was a particularly brutal one.”
Laying the groundwork for the year, Waldouck said: “I’ve missed quite a few pre-seasons recently with injuries so it’s great to be having a full summer here with Newcastle.
“It’s a tough time of the year, but it can be very rewarding. It’s the time where you make the biggest gains, it’s the foundation for your season and it’s quite nice to be just focusing on your own training rather than competing for a place in the team.
“Pre-seasons have evolved a lot since I first started as a professional. The way your workload is monitored now is far, far better than it was previously, and the way the coaches construct the pre-season programme is much more professional.
“It’s a very scientifically-informed programme, it’s clearly targeted and everything we do is there for a reason. It’s all recordable, there’s a strategic plan in terms of how the rugby fits in with the strength and conditioning and the mood here is really positive.”
Once again combining his Falcons commitments with his masters degree in sustainable urban development at Oxford University, the 30-year-old said: “It’s a similar scenario to last year in that I do the full pre-season here with Newcastle, I go away for the first few months of the season to Oxford University and then come back in December.
“I’m working on my studies at the moment alongside doing pre-season, and I actually have an essay due in the next week which is cutting it a bit fine!
“I’m really enjoying my studies, though, and I was out in Rio de Janeiro over the summer touching base with a project which I’m going to do some research with. It’s a rugby charity working out of one of the favelas, and I’m going to be looking at the social impact of sporting programmes.”
Setting a high bar for 2018-19 after a campaign which saw Newcastle reaching the semi-finals in the Premiership, European Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup, Waldouck expects more of the same this time round.
“The expectation within the squad this season is exactly the same as it was last season, which is very high,” he said.
“We want to build on the success we had last year, and even if the external perception was that we over achieved, within the squad we felt we were good for it. Our ambitions are high once again, we’re confident we can do certain things slightly better and we see no reason why we can’t kick on.”
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