It may be December, but Rabbitohs Premiership winning forward, Chris McQueen and his teammates know that the time is now to lay the platform for the 2015 NRL season.
With preparations well underway for the new-year, Queensland Origin representative McQueen, says that the intensity at Redfern hasn’t dropped after the side enjoyed a unique pre-season high altitude training camp in Arizona, USA.
“The intensity definitely hasn’t dropped,” said McQueen, still sweating after a gruelling session in the Club’s gym as though to illustrate the point.
“We’ve had a pretty intense pre-season so far – going overseas to Arizona where we got to walk the Grand Canyon and climb Mount Humphreys and such.
“Since we got back, we haven’t really missed a beat either, so we’ve gotten straight back into it and I think it’s been great for us as a team.”
For the 27 year old, the pre-season is all about getting the little things right as well as being an opportunity to build on the positive traits developed over a number of seasons under Head Coach, Michael Maguire.
“Obviously what we’ve been doing the last few years has been working for us, but it’s all about building on that now,” said McQueen.
“Every team is training hard and doing what we’re doing and we understand that, but it’s all the little extra bits that you can do here and there that will ultimately make the difference on the field.
“We work hard at going and doing that little bit extra to make sure we’re well prepared and in top shape. That’s part of what pre-season is all about.”
New additions to the Club such as Glenn Stewart and Tim Grant have served to add to the Rabbitohs culture since arriving at the Club according to McQueen, while the Club’s young brigade continue to add enthusiasm to the camp.
“There’s a great feeling around the Club at the moment,” said McQueen.
“Obviously we’ve picked up some new players and we’ve got some young players that have also come in to compliment that guys that have been here a long time.
“We definitely feel like we’re in a good spot at the moment – there’s a good culture at the Club and people just want to be here.”
In 20 appearances in 2014, McQueen averaged 74.2 metres with the ball in hand and an average of 18.6 tackles per game, while scoring four tries in the process. His size and strength were also key to the Rabbitohs when he was injected into matches, making 14 tackle breaks on his way to being a part of South Sydney’s 21st Premiership winning side.
But McQueen is setting himself simple goals ahead of the 2015 season, such as re-claiming a spot in the side’s starting 13.
“I had a few injuries during 2014 and started matches from the bench,” said McQueen.
“Obviously I want to get that starting spot back and that work starts right here. The rest will come if I just continue to work hard at achieving those goals.”
The Rabbitohs’ pre-season will open with the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament to be played at Eden Park in Auckland on the weekend of Saturday 31 January to Sunday 1 February 2015, before taking on the St George Illawarra Dragons in the Charity Shield on Saturday 7 February at ANZ Stadium.
The ‘Return to Redfern’ match against the NRL State Championship-winning Northern Pride will follow on Saturday 14 February at Redfern Oval, before the side jets off to the UK for a chance to become World Champions against St Helens at Langtree Park on the 22nd of February in the World Club Challenge.