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Meet the leanest man in rugby, the strongest man in rugby and one of the key players in Argentina's emergence as a genuine power in the world game. Sale Sharks coach Scott Pearson introduces three of the Sharks who are making waves at the World Cup.
The rugby World Cup moves into the knockout stages this month and there's still plenty of Sale Sharks involvement to excite the interest of the club's assistant, malehealth columnist Scott Pearson. He's pretty pleased with how his charges have performed so far and is happy to share some training secrets of the key players with malehealth.
The caveman, as he known in France, or the seabass, as they call him at Sale, has been the pin-up boy of French rugby ever since he flattened All Blacks flanker Chris Masoe in a test against New Zealand in June. The clip of the crunching tackle was viewed over 200,000 times on France's YouTube. Chabal's incredibly low body-fat percentage — 7% - is half Scott's target for Sale forwards.
'Our target body fat for forwards is 15%,' he says. 'For backs it's 10%. This means Sebastien is carrying no dead weight which enables him to be such an explosive player. His game is about high-impact pace and power. It's very physical game and demanding physiologically, especially when you're playing in the second row which is where he plays for his country. It's a very energy-sapping position, the scrum soaks it all up. That's why France tend to use him as a twenty minute man at the end of the game. We play him from the start but obviously the premiership is a slightly lower standard and also he plays at number eight for us which is a less tiring position.'
'We'll do the sort of thing that enable him to be explosive on the pitch. So if it's weight-lifting it will be very heavy weights. he'll do short sharp reps. He won't run or cycle a long-distance. It's more likely to be a series of a dozen 10 second sprints.
'We're really pleased with the progress that he's made at Sale. He's put on 7kg but remained at under 10% body fat. That's been a major part of his moving from the fringes of the French team to be one of their key players.'
France and Chabal, pictured coaching tackling at Sale, face their biggest test of the world cup in the quarter-final against New Zealand in Cardiff. Chris Masoe and Ali Williams — whose jaw he broke in the same test series — will wondering just what impact the Caveman will have.
Argentinian Lobbe is the exciting younger brother of fellow Shark Carlos Ignacio. The back row debuted for Sale last year and was, in Scott's words, 'absolutely outstanding' in the Puma's 30-5 victory over Ireland that ensured their quarter-final place.
'Again the main effect our training has had on Juan is to increase his weight,' says Scott. 'We'd have liked to have done more with him but we had a lot of injuries last season which meant that we had to play him in nearly every game. If a player's playing every game you can't do so much work off the field with him. We're his first professional club - there are no professional clubs in Argentina - and we've only had him a year. I think we can still get more out of him.'
Argentina's success at this World Cup does not surprise Scott. 'Just look at the clubs the Argentinian squad play for,' he says. 'They're the top clubs in the world. And I'm not just talking about Sale!'
'No. A lot of it is down to our nutritionist Bob McLaren. It's an exact science but a key part of it is when you eat your carbohydrates. For some of the lads who have had trouble getting their body-fat levels down, we've taken them off carbohydrates compeletely. Of course, that's physically tough going for them You can't do that in the middle of the season.'
Sale's strong man Andrew Sheridan is one of just a handful of England players who can be reasonably confident about starting the quarter-final match against Australia.
Reputed to be the strongest man in English rugby union, prop Sheridan is able to bench press 225 kilograms (33 stone). 'His strength is his strength,' says Scott. 'Last season was mainly about rehabilitation after a series of injuries.'
Last season was disrupted by a broken left ankle and ligament damage sustained in the win over South Africa at Twickenham in November 2006 followed by a media ligament injury barely a month after his comeback.
'That's the six million dollar question,' says Scott. 'At the club we had four ACL injuries last season and when that happens you've got to look at what you're doing and try to understand why. It could just be a run of bad luck. We had hardly any injuries in 2005-6 when we won the premiership but you have to monitor it.'
An ACL injury is a tear to the dreaded cruciate ligament in the knee. It's very common in high-impact sports like football or rugby. Though interestingly enough, reserach on college basketball players suggests that women players are up to 8 times more likely to sustain an ACL injury than men. Don't tell the lads at Sale.
Page created on October 1st, 2007