JOHAN Pretorius believes breaks during the long pre-season will be “crucial” to ensuring Worcester Warriors’ players are “fully ready” for the Gallagher Premiership.

The club’s head of performance said he had been given the responsibility of running Warriors’ training sessions for the opening six weeks as they focus on “strength”, “speed” and “power”.

Pretorius reckoned the intensity of last year’s pre-season paid off as Worcester showed their fitness levels to secure some memorable late wins.

But with the league campaign starting on Saturday, October 19 – six weeks later than last term – the South African insisted the squad needed time away from the club.

“I’ve worked with professional players for 10 years now and the power output is ginormous so you can’t just keep pushing them the whole time,” Pretorius said.

“We train for four weeks then they have a one-week break which is crucial.

“That doesn’t mean they will be eating pie and chips on the beach, but it takes a load off them and they can take their minds off rugby.

“Then we have another four weeks followed by another break.

“Physiologically it’s important and it’s such a long season so they do need breaks.

“It’s about how we structure them to be fully ready for the Gallagher Premiership season.

Pretorius previously worked with boss Alan Solomons at Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth and Edinburgh before arriving at Sixways from Super Rugby side Sharks last summer.

David Fabricius and Ryan Fisher work alongside Pretorius with the first team while Jack Powley and Joe Green train the senior academy.

“Alan told me we have a 12-week pre-season and asked me to look after the first six weeks,” Pretorius said.

“I still integrate skills work from the coaches along with conditioning games.

“The aim was the to get the players robust and strong in the gym and the second half is more focus on rugby. It has been working really well.

“We had a great team meeting on day one and set out our goals for the lads. Our critical work for the next six weeks is a lot of strength, speed and power work.

“It’s all very attainable and we are developing plyometric profiles for each player to look at explosiveness.

“Everything is timed and tested each week, which keeps the players competitive in their groups.”

Pretorius said he was pleased with his first season at Warriors who won three of their final four matches.

“The players played themselves into fitness to an extent – it wasn’t just us as the strength and conditioning team,” Pretorius said.

“I was really happy to see it because last pre-season was tough from a workload point of view, there weren’t many off days and it paid off.”