As the second week of 2017 pre-season draws to a close, head coach, Andrew Henderson, shares his thoughts on progress so far, what to expect in the coming weeks and months, and who’s caught his eye.
“It has been a tough welcome back and introduction for the boys, and a lot of work has been done already,” he said.
“It’s early days, but I’m happy where we are currently at. The new players have fit into the programme well, and have adapted to how we do things here at London. A few of the young guys stepping up have a bit of work to do, but there is no shortage of effort and they will get better as they adapt to full time training.”
There are 15 new faces in the 2017 squad so far, though not all are completely new to London. Four of the fresh faces are academy players who’ll make the step up to the first team – Kam Pearce-Paul, Lewis Bienek, Sid Adebiyi and Callum Bustin, and an additional four return to the Broncos after having played with the club previously – Kieran Dixon, Will Lovell, Michael Channing and Jarrod Sammut.
“I’m really happy with the squad we have assembled with the budget available.
“I’m very fortunate as a coach that we operate on a better budget than most Championship teams. This allows us to recruit some of the quality we have in our team, but we are still a bit off the spending capacity of Super League clubs.
“However, in saying this, we have managed to assemble a larger competitive squad than last season, which I believe has more strength in depth within it.
“Every position has a quality player that will miss out just as good as the other. I felt this was important, as we have to be better again this season and keep progressing forward as a team.
“I believe this depth in quality will push the players and create more competition at training; raising the standards, allowing us more scope to rotate if we need to, and giving comfort in knowing that if we suffer injuries we have the right quality of player to step in and maintain our standards as a team.”
With only two long term injuries remaining in the squad, Henderson says the club has the hard work and dedication of the Medical and Strength and Conditioning teams to thank.
“We currently have two long term injuries in Dalton Grant and Api Pewhairangi.
“Dalton unfortunately ruptured his Achilles after he had signed. It’s a long term injury but he is on the road to recovery. His surgery went well and the medical team are working tirelessly with him. We are hopeful he will return to full training by February.
“Api did his knee at the back end of 20126 as we know, and should be available around March time.
“Matt Davis has returned to training now since he did his ACL last season, which is great. A few others had minor knocks that needed sorting out in the off season but all are back training or will be in full training by early December.
“The injured guys are all making good progress thanks to the Medical and S&C departments, and are on schedule for their return to training dates.”
With two weeks down and another five to go, Henderson says the performance department like to shake up the routine just a little, to stop any chance of it becoming monotonous.
“Our programme has a lot of variety in it, but is heavily based on site at Trailfinders Sports Club as all our facilities are there. I do like to mix it up and go off site at times through the pre-season.
“We will be taking the boys to a kick boxing/MMA gym for some alternative training, and run a few weeks on the hills at Hampstead Heath.”
Has anyone in particular stood out?
“To be honest, they are a really good, honest group of players.
“Everyone is getting stuck in and working hard to be ready for the start of the season, which is impressive. Though, Jay Pitts, Kieran Dixon and Will Lovell have caught my eye early on.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t expect another strong season in 2017, and one that we can perform better overall in.
“I think the balance of the squad is good. The spine of the team (fullback, hookers, halves) has been together now for 12 months, and has a good understanding of our style of play.
“Our forward pack has more depth and variety in it, and we have some real quality outside backs with speed, experience and quality finishers.
“However, we will keep the players grounded. We had a good season last year but that’s gone now, we can’t rest on our laurels and just expect it will happen this year.
“The Championship is a strong competition, with some good players, and highly motivated teams and coaches. We will have to earn the right to be in the Qualifiers – as we did last season – by setting high standards of ourselves, having the right attitude and being prepared to work harder collectively than any other team in the competition.”
Finally, what defines a successful pre-season campaign for Hendo?
“It’s successful, if, by the end of it, you haven’t picked up any major injuries, the boys are all fit, fast and strong, they understand what’s expected, their roles within the team, the style of play, calls etc., and most importantly the chemistry is there – they are all together as one, and are a team that is hungry to achieve.”