PRESEASON | Battling Bethells Beach
Battling the Bethells Beach (Te Henga) sand dunes - more like sand mountains - was back on the preseason training menu for the Vodafone Warriors on Saturday.
It was just the second time the club's NRL squad has returned to train at the remote west coast beach since Sonny Fai disappeared in the surf there on January 4, 2009.
The players first ventured back to Te Henga on November 10, 2012, a chance to honour the popular Fai by using the sand hills as a training venue for the first time in more than three years.
After a two-year break, head coach Andrew McFadden and his staff took the club's NRL squad back on Saturday.
As they did in 2012, the players and staff began by gathering in a circle to pay their respects to Fai.
Then it was off into the hills for the bulk of the players while others recovering from injuries or surgery worked out with Ruben Wiki (absent were the club's 10 Four Nations players as well as hooker Nathan Friend and back rower Ben Henry, who were given the morning off).
In the hills the players were put through a variety of drills including taking on the steepest and longest slopes.
Many had been through gruelling Bethells Beach sessions before but it was a first for a number of them including halfback-standoff Chad Townsend and new recruits Matt Allwood and the just-arrived Jonathan Wright. Another making his Te Henga training debut was 20-year-old front rower Sam Lisone.