North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten has introduced some tough training tactics in pre-season in the hope it will get the very best out of his players in the 2022 NRL campaign.
The Cowboys are priced at 33/1 to win the NRL grand final in the new season but Payten is just keen to see them make progress and push for a place in the top eight.
As a player Payten knows what is needed to get to the top as he won the premiership with the Wests Tigers in the 2005 season.
He was also assistant coach to Paul Green when the Cowboys won the grand final in 2015 and he is determined to do all he can to take his players there.
It means taking the players completely out of their comfort zone with some very early starts and some tough training sessions to get them in the best possible condition for the season ahead.
Payten has been delighted with the way his players have responded and it bodes well for the season ahead.
"We've got some different tactics to put them under pressure every day and basically we are getting them to do things they don’t really like and doing it more often," Payten said.
"We are getting them on the park at 6am which means they are up at 4.30am. Some of our guys like to sleep a lot and it’s just around time management. Part of that is to beat the heat but it 's just to make them uncomfortable from the get-go.
"We're doing some contact sessions, they're tackling each other twice a day, three times a week which is a physical and mental challenge. We've thrown some curve balls at them, we've gone up the hill."