The Irish Experiment — Colin O’Riordan

Colin O’Riordan takes us into the world of a professional Australian Rules player.

With Kevin O’Brien

@kevobrien7

The training

Fitness
I thought I’d be further behind but you soon realise you’re as good fitness-wise as a lot of them. The hard training in GAA does stand to you, but you haven’t the fitness level required yet for AFL. You’re well ahead of the other first years that were drafted.

Coaching
It’s nearly one coach for every two players. It’s very individualised so they can really get the best out of you. You get specific things to work on and they look after you, especially me being an international, and having never kicked a ball before. The head coach oversees them all.

Recovery
There’s a massive emphasis on recovery here, probably more than there is on training. Everything is tailored around physical work so you have to be at peak performance. If you’re not recovered from the day before you can’t do it, so there’s a lot of emphasis on making sure you’re in tip-top shape for the next day. 

Gym work
Everything here is structured to your own needs. You’re tested everyday. It’s done in a group but you’ve your individual program tailored to your height, weight and position. A lot of the weights and stuff are the same but volume has increased. You’re doing three to five days a week in weights. The muscles would be fairly sore the next day for the first few weeks.

The lifestyle

Housing
The Swans have a housing program. The club rents out four houses a year and then the players stay together. If you’re young or after just moving over like myself, there not just going to chuck you into a house on your own, so three players stay together usually.

Diet
Two days a week we eat in the club so Monday and Friday we have our lunch at the club. The rest of the days you go for lunch, there’s lots of cafes and shops around the club. So you just go in there and have a bite to eat. Like everything, your diet is tailored to your own needs, if they want you to put on weight they give you a certain diet, if they want to lose weight they give you a different diet.

Time-off
During off-season it’s a five-day week. So you train Monday to Friday and you have the weekends off. But then once we get going in in-season, we’ll be playing on the weekends and we’ll have Wednesday off to pursue to do education or a college degree, or a college course on one day and hopefully leave with something out of the AFL. So that’s a good thing too.

The Irish connection

Tadhg Kennelly
Tadgh has been great, he only lives 100m up the road. Anytime you need anything or want anything you call up to him and he’ll sort it out in straight away. He’s an unreal tutor to have here. He’s experienced everything. He’s won at the highest level, he’s been a part of the best teams and he knows what it takes to adapt. He’s looked after me well so I’ve nothing but praise for him as a person

Missing home
Naturally enough, leaving home after Christmas was going to be the tough thing. People were saying it’s was going to be hard but you don’t really understand until you actually do it yourself. It was tough leaving everyone at home but after a week or two you kind of settle back into it and realise you can pick up the phone at any stage if you feel lonely.

Average training day (Sidebar)
6.30am Wake up, eat breakfast
7am Arrive at the club. Players test muscles to see if they can train *
8am Team meeting
8.30am Start training
11am Finish training
11.30am -12.30pm Lunch
1pm-1.45pm Bike session
2pm – 3pm Yoga
3pm – 5pm Your own recovery
5 Finished for the day

*Colin: “Markers are hamstring and glute tests to see if you’re able to train. If your strength is down in either leg, coaches look at them and evaluate them and see if you can train or not.”

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