Ask a Castleford Tigers fan to call the fittest participant on the membership and Nathan Massey might not be the primary person who involves thoughts.
After all, the 33-year-old is a prop with 309 video games on the clock relationship again to 2007.
But behind the scenes the veteran front-rower is placing his youthful team-mates to disgrace.
The Tigers lifted the curtain on their pre-season preparations this morning and Massey’s efficiency in a dreaded health check underlined why he’s nonetheless on the high of the sport 15 years on from his debut.
The Castleford-born ahead was touted as one of many fittest on the membership – together with Alex Mellor and Jake Mamo – earlier than the aptly-named Mass Running and he didn’t disappoint.
The drill, which solely fashioned a part of the sector session, sees the gamers run to the 40-metre line and again inside 20 seconds earlier than a 10-second relaxation.
After eight repetitions, they play a conditioning recreation continuous for 4 minutes earlier than finishing the identical drill twice extra.
Whereas a few of his team-mates had been visibly hurting, Massey glided by the drills and had sufficient within the tank to persuade the remainder of the squad.
Even in his sixteenth pre-season, the front-rower is setting the usual and main from the entrance.
At the tip of every recreation, the highest three and backside three performers are revealed.
It was no shock to listen to Massey’s identify on the finish of recreation three however the skilled campaigner seems to have robust competitors shifting ahead within the form of recent boy Elliot Wallis.
The City of Hull Academy product earned a spot in Castleford’s first-team squad for 2023 by his performances for the reserves.
Wallis educated like a person decided to take his second probability in Super League after making six appearances for Hull KR.
The 22-year-old was among the many high performers after recreation one and stayed within the high three all through the session.
He was joined by former Rovers team-mate George Lawler after video games one and two, with Jordan Turner, Mellor and teen George Hill additionally having fun with stints within the high three.
Mellor, like Massey, dealt with all the pieces the coaches threw at him with consummate ease.
The back-rower has rapidly established himself as a pacesetter since swapping Leeds Rhinos for Castleford halfway by final season.
That was evident on the finish of recreation two when Jason Qareqare was nonetheless among the many worst performers, with Mellor making it clear to the 18-year-old that he was higher than that.
The end result was an escape from the underside three for Qareqare by the tip of the third and closing drill, a sure-fire signal that he bought the message.
The proficient teenager is combating for a spot going into 2023 – and he’s actually not alone.
On the face of it, Lee Radford has a stronger squad for subsequent season after recruiting the likes of Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller.
Albert Vete has additionally linked up with the Tigers after a two-year stint at Hull KR however he’s behind his new team-mates at the beginning of pre-season attributable to a freak harm.
After a visit to the barber, the prop was left with a foul lower which grew to become contaminated to proceed his luckless begin to life in Super League.
Another participant determined for a change in fortune is younger half-back Callum McLelland who has not performed since August 2021.
The 23-year-old is again in coaching and has a smile on his face once more as he appears to place his harm nightmare behind him.
Thursday’s discipline session – bookended by separate stints within the fitness center for the forwards and backs – was only a snapshot of what pre-season appears like for a Super League participant.
Radford’s males should negotiate one other two and a half months earlier than they start their 2023 Super League marketing campaign at Hull FC.
If they begin the season with a bang, the gruelling periods at Aspire at The Park in Pontefract will quickly be forgotten.