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Groom's role matters

Elenoa Baselala In Canberra, Australia
Friday, November 10, 2017

MANY may not recognise the bearded guy in orange shirt that is almost always on the field when the Vodafone Fiji Bati plays.

Anthony Groom is the Fiji Bati physiotherapist and has been involved since 2012.

He was brought in by former coach Rick Stone when he was then the head physio for the Newscastle Knights club.

While he worked with the team in the lead-up to the 2013 RLWC, Groom did not go to the United Kingdom for personal reasons.

Groom is one of the officials who work behind the scenes to ensure players are in top form for training sessions or matches.

With his orange shirt, he is the only official allowed to run on to the field at any time a match is on.

"Sometimes I think I run more than the referee but I am of course fairer," he jokes.

Before any training sessions there are few things that will keep Groom occupied.

"We look after the tapings and strappings of players during training, some may get treatments because of the injuries they sustained during games, training sessions.

"We make sure the recovery is as quick as we can," Groom says.

He also advises the players how to look after themselves and how to make themselves better athletes.

"The one advantage we have in the team is that a lot of athletes here are involved in NRL programs they are pretty well aware of their bodies and what they need to do to get ready for the game.

"We make sure they have got what they need and if they need extra hands we are to do that for them.

"We have a variety of techniques that we use to treat the players. A couple of guys come with "corks", which are bruises deep in the muscles," Groom said.

There are some players who come in with mild injuries or sprains, the role of the physiotherapist is to make sure the players are in top form.

On a game day, two hours before the team's departure for the stadium we will be spent on treatments to "loosen" up tight backs or hamstrings.

Groom will travel with the team to the stadium, where he will strap players or more treatment to loosen up muscles.

"The challenging thing is making sure you identify injuries early enough so you that don't allow a small injury to become a bigger injury," he said.

Half of the team will get their ankles strapped during training sessions while on a game day it will increase to 75 per cent.

While strapping will not prevent injuries, they will minimise the effects of any injury.

"We have got quite a few getting shoulder tapes for same reason. We have to remember that some players have had six weeks off before they came into camp while some came straight after their games to camp.

"We have to manage them and ensure we keep the guys healthy.

"Once the game starts my job is to run on and off the field making sure the guys are OK.

"It's usually pretty busy.

"My job is to make sure we check on the player during the game and keep them hydrated with water.

"If any players look like they have sustained an injury, we check to make sure they are safe to play on or it's best to take them off."

Groom says experience matters a lot when it comes to making assessements on the field.

"You see whether a player is slow to get back into the defensive line, whether player takes time to get up from the ground and sometimes you can just see them holding or shaking their arm.

"We talk to the players, there's a whole series of assessments to see if there is any injury. Experience counts."

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