A distinctive approach to training in isolation could be the key to the Saints’ rise when Season 2020 resumes, according to Head of High Performance Matt Hornsby.

Hornsby and the Saints made the bold decision to effectively halt the high load of physical training at the season’s pause mark, instead adopting a ‘phase’ mentality to see players return in peak physical and mental condition.

“Firstly, we wanted to focus on player wellbeing,” he told saints.com.au.

“To give them two weeks essentially of a real recovery focus – knowing that this is going to be a longer season than normal – we needed to manage their total workload.”

Matt Hornsby (L) and Brett Ratten (R) at training.

The second phase focussed on fitness maintenance and building conditioning over a three-week period.

“The players divided up all of our gym equipment before they left, so they’ve been able to do a really significant amount of physical conditioning through this phase,” Hornsby said.

“They’ve been able to train in pairs, which has been a challenge in a football sense, but still something that they’ve embraced.

“They’ve certainly trained very hard, we put together some pretty solid sessions … and they’re driving each other to prepare themselves as best as possible.”

But arguably the most crucial element to the Saints gaining a competitive edge has been a club-wide focus on mindfulness, which forms the pillar for the third phase.

“We expect that we’ll probably have about three-four weeks of training when we return before we get back into games, so it becomes about mentality,” Hornsby said.

“Having a pause in the season … it’s not an off-season, it’s not a period where we get to go away and rest.

“We’re solely focussed on being physically and mentally ready to play again knowing that the turnaround to games will be fairly short.”