Thomas Whalan reports on Aussies playing overseas
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Thursday, 27 September 2007
I arrived to Italy in early September to begin another season filled with Italian Cup, Italian League and European Len Cup games. This season will certainly be a busy one with the possibility of playing up to 60 games for Savona. There are 14 first grade teams spread around Italy including Sicily, Naples, Rome, Florence, Genoa and to the North in Cremona and Brescia which makes for plenty of traveling throughout the league. The last few weeks have been full of fitness work, strength conditioning and training games to adapt to the new team and the new style of play which more closely resembles the Spanish and Australian counter attacking styles. Over the weekend we played three games for the preliminary round of the Italian Cup (a knock-out competition played in addition to the league) where we qualified for the next round to be disputed down in Catania in two weeks time. In mid October we have the first round of European Len Cup games to be played in Belgrade and the Italian League begins on the 20th.

The training environment over here is perfect for the athletes; no 5am wake-ups (the Italians don't understand how we do that back home!). We train from 10:30 until 12:30 and then again from 6pm to 8pm. We will usually have around 9 sessions a week plus weights training on top and the great advantage is the ability to have training games on a regular basis with other teams. This schedule leaves good time for recovery and of course enjoying the Italian lifestyle!

The Aussie Sharks squad has eight members playing internationally this season. Sam McGregor, Johnno Coterill, Richie Campbell, James Stanton, Rob Maitland and Nick O'Halloran are all playing in Spain. Pietro Figlioli is here in his fourth year in Italy. The benefits of this are huge; a large number of our players will have that much more international experience come Beijing 2008 and will understand what it takes to be a professional athlete and compete with the best in the world. I'm looking forward to travelling over to Barcelona on the weekend to catch up with the guys playing over there and to see how they're adapting to there new training environments.

Late November will be an important date in the Aussie Shark's calendar with the qualification test series against New Zealand for the Beijing Olympics. Although we have had relatively easy success against the Kiwis in the past they can never be underestimated at home; the Soceroos and Boomers have both fallen into this trap in the past so we will be sending a strong contingent to make sure we're in Beijing in 2008!