Coaches are determined to make up for lost time before the May 28 restart – and the chance to hold a no-holds-barred hit-out this weekend was welcomed.
Their only other wish was to have an idea of which teams they will face in round three, but the draw will not be finalised until next week at the earliest.
Project Apollo chief Wayne Pearce said the chance to lock down round three or the first month of games was ”highly unlikely”.
Such is the excitement among the players to be training again after a six-week layoff, many were spotted at their training bases on Tuesday.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, whose side are top of the ladder after two rounds, asked his players if they were happy to train Saturday and Mother’s Day on Sunday. He was blown away by the response.
“We haven’t got long [to the competition restart] so every day will count,” Arthur told the Herald. “Our boys want to train Saturday and Sunday so we’ll get two field sessions back to back.
“We’ll only keep them for a couple of hours on Sunday. We’ll do some video from Saturday’s contact session, then get out on the field and let them get back to their families in the afternoon.
“All the boys are on board. They know Sunday is a special day being Mother’s Day, and we’ll make sure they get the morning to spend with their loves ones. For a lot of them, they won’t be able to see their mothers anyway. We’ll give them Monday off.”
Arthur was impressed by how the Eels look physically, and stressed the importance of being able to resume full contact this weekend.
Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire said of contact training: “It helps with injury prevention, and allows the body and ligaments to adapt to that twisting and turning, which is a brutal part of our game.
“If you think abut anyone running into people, you need to be able to adapt and bring yourself up to where you need to be … the physical contact is what makes our game special.”
Sydney Roosters will train on Saturday, as will Manly, Penrith, Canberra and the Storm, whose players will have the option to make the three-hour return trip home from Albury to Melbourne for the weekend.
St George Illawarra assistant Shane Flanagan told the Dragons’ website last Friday: “There will be a lot of shorter training days, but six out of the seven days they will be in.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.