Stanley & Owen on lockdown training

Posted: Monday 6th July 2020 - 1:25 PM

This article is taken from June's edition of Castleford Tigers' monthly magazine ROAR which is available to read in full, for free, HERE.

Tara Stanley is a regular amongst the England setup, but she knows that she has to continue to work hard to be included in Craig Richard’s named England Women Performance Squad (EWPS).

“Well he had rang Lacey actually who was in the middle of a workout in the garden, I’d been working during the day so Lacey said ‘Oh Craig wants to speak to you’, so I picked up the phone and he said ‘I’ve got one thing to say… Why aren’t you outside doing that workout?!’, I was like ‘Aye up I’m doing it after work!’ but he told me I was in,” said Stanley.

“Every single time that you get the call it matters as much as the last and you can never be complacent and especially because I’ve been around now for what? Eight or nine years, but with the talent that is coming through you can never be complacent with getting in such a great squad.

There is a LOT of talent in the named England performance squad and in the first-ever Women’s Knights squad and Tara has been able to see the growth of the talent pool at international level first-hand.

“I think that it comes on the back of the setup of the Women’s Super League, I said in an interview not long ago that I remember the times that I pulled on the opposing team’s jersey because they’ve not had enough players. Now it’s not heard of and I think that week in and week out we’ve got the talent there and every game is a challenging as the last and you’ve got to meet them demands and it’s bringing through a new breed of players. It’s great for the sport.”

Lacey Owen was named in the EWPS for the first time and in recognition for the hard work she has put in as a player for the Tigers. It also offers the chance to continue her growth as a player at an international level.

“Craig rang myself, the England Head Coach, saying he was delighted to say that I would be in the squad with all the girls and I was nearly crying!” said Owen.

“I’m really excited about it and is a new opportunity for me so new things to come hopefully and I can smash it with the rest of the girls,”

Lacey’s selection is doubly sweet after suffering an injury last season that she came back from to feature strongly in the Tigers Women’s memorable 2019 campaign, clearly getting noticed by Richards for selection.

“I broke my foot last year which I was pretty gutted about because my goal was to work to the England squad originally, but I was mainly focusing on Castleford. As we played Leeds in the first half of the game, I broke my foot and had a lot of ligament damage, it just wasn’t my year I suppose.”

The wait goes on for the start of the 2020 Women’s Super League season, but the Rugby Football League did provide an update on the planning for a shorter season dependent on the public health situation and Government advice.

Effectively this has meant that the Tigresses have been in a prolonged pre-season period trying to keep match ready for whenever the season begins. Owen has taken this in her stride and says she is in better condition than ever!

“It’s a different brief completely! We’re used to going into the gym and smashing our session and going home, doing a run maybe every now and then. But now, I’ve been literally non-stop running and I think I’m fitter than I was when we were meant to start the season.

“I’ve got the time now and during this time I’ve got to exercise more than I ever have before, as soon as I get up in a morning, I’ll eat my breakfast and go run. I have eaten so much just because I’ve exercised so much! I think my fuel is on empty every time I stop exercising, so it’s good but it’s been a completely different ball game.”

Stanley has continued to work for the company who is also her player sponsor, Yesss Electrical, who are an electrical wholesaler and she works within the distribution centre team, but she has continued to train at home and along with the rest of the Women’s team too.

“We’ve been distributing to some of the hospitals that have been built during the pandemic and it’s been tough especially working from home, but we’ve got a great team at Yesss so we just power on through.

“I go through a different routine to Lacey I get up earlier before work and I’ll go for a run but I get an hour’s dinner and when in the office I pretty much sit at my computer and work. But now I’m able to quickly throw on my gym kit, do an hour’s session and come back in. To be honest I’m finding I’m doing a running or a con session or a strength session before 5 o’clock before I finish work. Other than the group sessions that we do with Cas I’m finding myself easier than I thought to work and train as well.”

Much like the rest of the world, the Tigresses are using Zoom to host group meetings and sessions and both Owen & Stanley love the fact they can remain in regular contact with their teammates.

“It’s so good, for example on Sunday mornings our Strength & Conditioning coach Stacey will do a session and it’s really hard work but it’s good because she will get her point across and before we all start we mute ourselves. Stacey will speak and we all sit and listen just like we would if we were training at Cas. It’s great for us to be able to have the consistency with the coaching staff and other members of the coaches will join in with us which keeps us motivated.”

2019 was a terrific season for Castleford Tigers Women which saw them reach both the Challenge Cup Final and the Women’s Super League Grand Final and one thing that came across through the year was just how tightly knit the team was. So, whilst Zoom is offering them the chance to see one another, Tara and Lacey are still missing their teammates a lot.

“We are missing the girls; we are really missing them. It’s just having that team environment and you can see them on a screen it’s just not the same. We still push ourselves and some of the girls have created their own Zooms on top of the team sessions. So, a couple of the girls say, ‘Do you fancy doing this session tonight?’ and we’ll do it ourselves, we’ve also got a yoga session with Jo our physio which she loves! We don’t usually like doing yoga as a team, ‘Aw stretches! Who needs them?!’ but now we definitely do need them!” said Stanley.

“We all meet up outside of rugby as well, so in addition to being a rugby family kind of thing, they are our best friends as well. Not being able to see them or having to train in smaller groups and stuff is not the same,” added Owen.

If you would like to listen to the full podcast with Lacey and Tara then head over to Tigers TV where you can watch or listen to the episode for free, along with every other episode of the Tiger Talk Podcast.

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