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Suns equal to Crows: trainer

Michael Whiting  January 26, 2013 9:47 AM

AFL 2012 Training - Gold Coast Suns 070312

Former Adelaide fitness boss Stephen Schwerdt says the Suns have been impressive

I feel like we've got a bit of a head start here
THE YOUNG Gold Coast list has the same work ethic and attention to detail as premiership fancies Adelaide, according to former Crows fitness guru Stephen Schwerdt.

After 14 seasons at West Lakes in Adelaide's fitness department, Schwerdt came to the Suns in the off-season and has now had four months to work with the group.

He could not be more impressed.

Along with former Adelaide coach Neil Craig, and last season Brenton Sanderson, Schwerdt helped develop the Crows into arguably the fittest and strongest club in the League.

And despite the Suns being at a different –  younger – stage, he said Gold Coast had the ingredients to physically join the competition's elite.

"They've been brilliant. For me, it's probably been the highlight so far, the attitude of the players," Schwerdt said, following a three-hour training session on Thursday.

"I've only got one club to compare them to, but they stack up equally, if not better in most areas, in regards to work ethic, attitude to do all the right things, attention to detail, their hardness to train - that's all elite, and for me has been a highlight.

"Something I prided our team on in Adelaide was that they did that well and we created that culture over a number of years.

"I feel like we've got a bit of a head start here because a lot of that has been established already."

Schwerdt said leaving the Crows after such a long time (he also played 25 games there from 1992-1994) was a tough decision, but one that had been coming.

With some gentle persuasion from Adelaide premiership coach and current Suns' coaching director Malcolm Blight, the 42-year-old relocated his family to the Gold Coast.

Schwerdt said initially it was difficult to play catch-up on the players' histories and idiosyncrasies, but he now felt comfortable.

"They're about where I thought they'd be," he said.

"Their ability to tolerate what I've given them is what I expected. In the AFL environment, you tread a fine line in the pre-season about working players so you get improvement but not going too far so you get injured or lose players, and that's a delicate balance.”

He struggled to nominate a pre-season standout, saying everyone from experienced Jared Brennan, recruit Greg Broughton to rookie Jesse Lonergan  had been diligent, thorough and worked tirelessly.

“There's no doubt players' ability - their resilience to train day in and day out, bounce back from a hard session or in-season a hard game, and train during the week, that's something that will evolve.

“From my experience, players that have been in the system five, six, seven years, that's when they're at their strength in that area.

“You've got to prioritise where you put your time. Probably strength-wise they're in pretty good shape but we've got to keep working on their running capabilities, all pre-season really.”

Michael Whiting covers Gold Coast news for Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting