I can guarantee you that Nottingham’s pre-season began before any of other teams in either the Championship or the Aviva Premiership.
That’s because just 48 hours after our final Championship game of last season against London Welsh, we were back at the club for four weeks of hard slog.
It was brutal. We had two sessions a day with no rugby whatsoever. Just our strength and conditioning coach Jo Brun beasting us to within an inch of our lives... and he is an extremely popular guy at this club!
While mates from other clubs were jetting off for some sun and R&R, we were enduring an altogether different end of season.
I was lucky to some extent. Because I was getting over a broken cheekbone, I missed the first running session. But it was only a stay of execution.
It was a chance for Jo to try things out on us - and he knows what he is doing. There is a real balance between training hard enough and over training.
There was a reason behind the madness.
The idea was that we could have time to work through and get over knocks we had been carrying throughout the season. We strengthened areas that needed work on, with special reference to our core.
And because there was no game at the weekend to prepare for, Jo didn’t have to worry about over-training us to make sure that we weren’t knackered when Saturday came around.
He really pushed us. And by the time July came around, we had already ironed out some physical weaknesses.
We all enjoyed our summer after that and, from my point of view, even after breaking down on the way to the airport before a holiday to Italy!
It was the first time that we had done anything like that in terms of pre-season before but the squad has all come back in preparation for our season opener against Bedford in better shape than ever.
We are keen to get off to a strong start but the last two years of not making the play-offs has taught us that the Champo is all about playing your best rugby in late winter and spring. We have learned some valuable lessons.