A good boss will never ask his charges to do something he would not do himself and, for Huddersfield Giants head coach Paul Anderson, that includes sleeping rough in the woods.
With their opening Super League game barely three weeks away, he has been detailing how he has got his squad into shape for the testing examinations that lie ahead.
There was the usual trip to Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire, the British Army’s largest training base, but with an added degree of difficulty.
“Football, for a period, took a back step and what we did to start our pre-season was set the tone by going to Catterick for three days,” recounted Anderson, who seeks to turn his side from perennial nearly-men into champions.
“Previously we’ve been there and the players have been shown how to build shelters.
“We did that again but this time they had to actually live in them.
“It was fun as if it rained and you’d not done your shelter properly you got wet.
“The first night they slept outside as they hadn’t done it right and the second night there was some adjustments.
“All the staff did the same thing as a group. We lived out in the woods for three days and had a rota to keep the fire going on the night, an hour each rolling round.
“If it went out you were knackered but I know I slept better that second night. We were toasty.”
Anderson, whose side visit Bradford Bulls in their first pre-season friendly tomorrow, added: “You had to try to manufacture something out there in the woods.
“We got given a bit of string and twine and it was fun at first as everyone was running around nicking each other’s gear.
“The players were put out of their comfort zone and they had to work together, that’s the main thing, and it brought you together as a group.
“When you’re cold and wet you have to get some body heat so there’s no choice other than coming together.
“It was a bit like I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here but better. There were no celebrities.”
Anderson is wary that his squad’s mentality must improve in 2015 and there are significant gains to be made.
For all they finished third last term, just a point behind leaders St Helens, he admits Huddersfield “stuttered” and “never really got going”.
It was perhaps no surprise, then, they failed spectacularly in the play-offs, but he is hoping for a more rounded and ruthless showing this time around.
“Pre-season is going alright but time will tell,” Anderson added.
“They have definitely worked hard and that’s the key.
“We’ve tried to challenge them mentally with a lot of mind-numbing things and we’ve been relentless in that doing them over, and over, and over again.
“We’ve then asked them to do some really game-specific things while having to do a couple of ks in the middle of it all, just when your mind’s telling you ‘I can’t do this. It’s boring, mind-numbing’.
“But the reality of it is if you stop you just won’t play so you have to get through it mentally, come back and do it. Then realise you can do it again. And again.
“It’s been non-stop. Some of the conditioning sessions have been way in excess of the past, but the boys look in good shape.
“We just have to get them right on the field now.”
Tomorrow’s contest will aid in this regard as they build towards their first competitive fixture at home to Hull FC on February 8.
Under the new league structure, Anderson believes Giants must finish in the top four to have any chance of reaching a maiden Grand Final.
He is looking forward to seeing Craig Huby, the talented prop signed from Castleford Tigers, advancing that cause.
“He’s a great player who brings a lot of football, time on the field, experience and excitement, too, as I’m confident he’s still capable of a lot more,” said the coach.
“He’s had a fine 10 years or so at Cas, but I’ve challenged him to see what he can truly do in a different environment. He’s all the attributes to be an England player.”