Adam Beard talks to Sky Sports about turning the Wales squad into lean, mean, fighting machines.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 22/02/12 6:53pm
Should Wales end their dismal run of form at Twickenham on Saturday, then Adam Beard should earn his fair share plaudits.
Wales have recorded just one win at the home of English rugby in 24 years but they will go into the RBS Six Nations encounter as favourites.
Having reached the semi-finals of the World Cup last year, Wales have picked up from where they left off to win their opening two games of the championship.
And it is the work behind the scenes of the little-known Australian Beard and his five-man team that has provided the platform for the team.
Having learnt the ropes and honed his knowledge in a variety of sports from Australian Rules Football to athletics, Beard is passing on his expertise as the head of physical performance at Welsh Rugby Union.
And it is no surprise that since his appointment the fitness and conditioning of the Wales squad has dramatically improved.
In fact, Warren Gatland's line-up on Saturday will have a two-inch and 26lb per man advantage over their Twickenham counterparts.
Such is the size of the back division - with the likes George North (6ft 4in, 17st 6lb), Alex Cuthbert (6ft 6in, 16st 5lb), Jamie Roberts (6ft 4in, 17st 4lb), Mike Phillips (6ft 3in, 15st 10lb) and Rhys Priestland (6ft, 15st 1lb) - that they wouldn't look out of place in the pack.
But while Beard refuses to take the credit for the size of the players - "Yeah I've been growing them for the past few years," he jokes - he has helped turn them into lean, mean, fighting machines.
Beard told Sky Sports: "The boys have all bought into the programme and what we are trying to do. Warren is a big advocate of lean, fit players and we have been given the time and resources to do that.
"Before the World Cup, Warren didn't feel the squad was where he wanted it to be it terms of strength and fitness so we have been working hard on improving that.
"But it is through the hard work of the players that we are where we are at.
"Warren knows what he is after so we have looked at tailoring everything towards being rugby specific and the needs of the players."
Wales have been praised for their forward-thinking approach to preparation - including training camps in Poland and the use of cryotherapy chambers.
However, building everything around the needs of the modern professional has been key to the success of the programme.
"Other teams will be fit but we are rugby fit," explained Beard. "I think it would be quite daunting facing the boys but at the end of the day rugby is a contact sport and there is no getting away from that.
"If we can get just a one per cent edge over our rivals from what we are doing then that is fantastic.
"We know you don't get trophies for being fit so that is why what we do is tailored for rugby. The boys buy into it because they can see the benefits from it all."
As well as the fitness and conditioning of the players, Beard's team also work on ensuring what the squad eats and drinks is spot-on too.
And that is where the work off the field has helped produce the massive units that will take to the hallowed turf at Twickenham.
"We have to make sure the boys are very lean so in that respect we've had to manufacture their body sizes as these are not their natural sizes," he added.
"With all the training they are doing, they are eating five/six times a day, drinking plenty of shakes and taking on plenty of protein. They are also taking plenty of supplements as well which we have looked at with our partners at Maximuscle.
"To be honest our food bill is scary.
"We hit the boys six weeks before camp - looking at the likes of specific training, high intensity exercise and supplements to help keep them well, as being ill can cause muscle wastage. We want the boys to be in the best possible shape."
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