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Owen Farrell will be the starting No10 in the Lions’ opening game of the Australia tour against the Barbarians on 1 June.
Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images Winning a Lions Test series is the ultimate challenge but flying out with a fully-fit 37-man tour squad in scintillating form remains almost as tricky an assignment.
While Warren Gatland has been fine-tuning the details of his Australian campaign for months, he is constantly at the mercy of the fates and already has a few niggling concerns before his side’s departure for Hong Kong and Australia in less than a fortnight’s time.
The first is the physical state of the team’s Irish warrior Brian O’Driscoll, who lasted only 13 minutes of Leinster’s RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final against Glasgow at the weekend before departing with back trouble.
Both Leinster and Gatland remain optimistic that rest and an epidural injection will ease his back spasms but the 2005 Lions captain was unable to travel to London for an introductory get-together with his colleagues at Syon Park, let alone lift a bulging suitcase full of shiny new tour kit.
Gatland also has his fingers crossed regarding the shaky form of Owen Farrell, one of just two specialist fly-halves in the squad and the son of his assistant Andy Farrell.
Two sub-par performances for Saracens in high-profile semi-finals is not necessarily a sign of things to come this summer but amber warning lights are now flashing.
The head coach, already short of cover at No10, insists the Englishman will ultimately come good.
“It’s been tough for Owen but he has shown in the past that he is one of those players who responds really well to any adversity or criticism and comes back fighting better and stronger,” said Gatland.
“That is one of the reasons why we like him so much.
We’re sure he’ll react really well to that criticism from outside and I’m sure he will do well on tour.
The Saracens result also gives us an opportunity to work with him in the next couple of weeks prior to the first game.” Jonny Sexton’s ongoing commitments with Leinster has ensured Farrell will be the starting Lions No10 for the tour’s opening game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1 June, by no means a low-key start for a young player enduring a sudden crisis of confidence.
Gatland, though, argues that the 22 players heading off to the Vale of Glamorgan to train this week will potentially have an advantage over the other 15, primarily from Leinster and Leicester, who are still busy with their clubs.
Not that the Lions will be moaning endlessly about the acute shortage of pre-tour time spent together.
“One of the main policies on this tour is that we’re not seen by the Aussies to be a bunch of whinging poms.
We’ve just got to make the most of it.” It will still be a nervous fortnight.
Cruelly, history suggests one or two individuals will be injured between now and the Lions’ departure date on 27 May but Gatland has advised those involved in major finals not to hold anything back.
“There is a bit of trepidation about not picking up injuries but if you go in with that attitude and try and look after yourself there is more chance of picking up an injury.
The advice to those players is to go hell for leather.” Pity the management, even so, as key men like Sexton brace themselves for this Friday’s Amlin Challenge Cup final and the Pro12 final the following weekend.
“In the back of your mind you do think about injuries,” admitted the Leinster fly-half, keen to work with Farrell having met him fleetingly only twice before.
“I remember T mas O’Leary going down injured in 2009 and in the back of your mind you’re praying that doesn’t happen.
But once you get out on the pitch your competitiveness comes through and it’s the last thing you think about.” Whether the Lions will see much of the Wallaby full-back Kurtley Beale, meanwhile, remains in doubt after the Australian Rugby Union announced the 24-year-old has taken “an indefinite leave of absence” from the game to seek “assistance in resolving personal issues”.
The troubled Beale has been involved in several alcohol-related incidents and, according to the ARU, has now “voluntarily entered a private health facility to undertake counselling”.
Chris Camozzi faces Jacare Souza in the co-main event of UFC on FX 81 this Saturday… but that wasn’t exactly the plan.Things can change rapidly in the UFC. Injuries happen, fight cards get reshuffled, and the fighters who can t adapt get left behind.
That s why many fighters say it pays to stay in shape even between fights, You never know when you’ll get the call from Joe Silva or Sean Shelby, and when you re already in shape, getting back into the Octagon goes a lot more smoothly.
UFC middleweight Chris Camozzi (19-5-0) learned this firsthand after his recent win at UFC 158 in Montreal. Shortly after racking up his fourth straight win in a row, Camozzi was asked to step in2 for an injured CB Dolloway to fight Cezar Ferreira (6-2-0) on May 18th at UFC on FX 8. When Mutante was then injured, Camozzi said yes to his replacement, Rafael Natal (15-4-1).
And with less than two weeks to go before the showdown, another shakeup occurred Costa Philippou was forced out of the co-main event due to an injury, opening the door for Camozzi to face former Strikeforce middleweight champ Ronaldo Jacare Souza (17-3-0). Despite the turbulence, Camozzi s poise hasn t been fazed. I always feel confident, he told UFC.com.
I feel like as long as I do the work in the gym and I train hard, I should come out on top. And having just fought Nick Ring and coming out of that injury free, I was already in shape and my cardio was still good, so short notice isn t really that bad. While the condensed timing to prep may not have rattled Camozzi this time around, he admitted that that s not always the case.
The UFC might call you while you re drinking a beer, so you need to clean things up quick, lower the calories, and start to eat clean as soon as possible, he said. For more tips on how fighters can get the most from a shortened training camp, we turned to Camozzi and Andy Hennebelle, NASM-CPT, CSCS, USAW, a TRX Ripped trainer at the UFC Gym3 in Corona, Calif. #1.
FOCUS HEAVILY ON CARDIOCardio is king in the Octagon, according to Camozzi. Short-notice fighters come in and they gas quickly, so a big part of camp would revolve around cardio and getting into shape, he said. We all know how to fight and that stuff comes back quickly, but building up the lungs and getting rid of lactic acid is huge.
Try swimming, long-distance running, and sprinting — when you re tired, that s the ballgame. #2. TRAIN FOR SPEEDHennebelle s training recommendations include ditching the heavy lifting and focusing on speed and agility.
There s no time to add mass because it’s counterproductive to the fight since you re not cutting weight if you re adding mass,” he says. “So you modify type of training to get the fighter to peak in speed and performance on an endurance basis. #3. CLEAN UP YOUR DIETEating super clean wasn t always on Camozzi s to-do list, and he admitted his diet could have been tighter for his last five fights.
Even if it was healthy food, I was having two or three plates of it. Now I m eating five to six meals per day and keeping my insulin level from spiking, which allows me to burn fat all day while keeping my energy up. That will be a huge advantage for me. #4.
HEAD TOWARD YOUR TARGET WEIGHT IMMEDIATELYMake your weight cut a top priority if you schedule a fight on short notice. Start taking foods, liquids, and herbal aids that are diuretics to flush out toxins and additional fluids from the body, Hennebelle explained. Hydration is important, and it plays a huge role in a weight cut.
Camozzi s nutritional changes have helped him lessen the burden of cutting weight. Getting to 185 lbs. has always been tough for me since I m usually around 215 lbs.
to 220 lbs. when I m not fighting, he said. But my new diet has allowed for a more gradual weight drop, so this time it s a good cut.
I have a good feeling that I ll gradually get my weight down rather than have to cut it off really quick and suck out all the water. #5. FORGET THERE WAS AN OLD STRATEGY When you take a fight on short notice, you have get tape of your opponent right away, Camozzi said.
From there, my coaches create a list for me that include keys to winning the fight as well as the things we need to work. #6. GET CONTROL YOUR NERVESNew opponents present different sets of challenges, which may usher in feelings of excitement and uncertainty. Learning to harness those feelings is a key to staying focused.
I think there is less pressure for a short-notice fight, Camozzi said. If I take a 10-week camp, I go through this phase of a couple weeks where I have plenty energy and I m ready to go. Then about midway through I start to get tired and nervous, and I start to think What if this happens?
or What if that happens? Right now, I m still on that excited phase. I don t have time to dwell on the fight as long or second-guess myself.
I just have to go in there and get it done.
I think less and react instead of overthink.
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