The two words footballers fear most over the annual Christmas break: time trial. For the returning Saints men, Wednesday morning was the dreaded day.

“Getting to sleep the night before hasn’t gotten any easier,” Saints wingman Jack Sinclair said following this year’s event.

I was chatting to Lones (Jack Lonie) about it earlier and still get nervous and we’re going into our seventh year.

- Jack Sinclair

“Day one, you know you’re coming in for the time trial and it’s always a big test.”

But Head of High Performance Matt Hornsby insisted it’s an important yardstick to monitor a player’s performance over time.

“It’s not just about this pre-season, it’s watching guys physically develop across their careers, particularly in an aerobic sense” Hornsby said.

“The game still demands that high level running where mentally and physically you have to push when you’re fatigued, and a time trial certainly allows them to practice that.”

Due to COVID protocols, the trial was split across four groups.

“It did present a challenge in the sense that the guys they often run with, they didn’t necessarily have with them, so that threw a bit of a challenge.

“Groups of ten still allow for plenty of guys to run together and challenge each other, and we saw that with guys racing pretty hard and coming home strongly.

Overall, we’re really happy. The guys clearly had a good few weeks of training while they were away for Christmas.

“We expect them to follow their programs, which sets them up to come back in great shape, and they’ve certainly done that.”

Sinclair, who ran a second short of his personal best time, was impressed by the overall performance of the group.

“I just tried to be consistent with my pace the whole time, which I think is my strength,” he said.

“It’s funny, I’m still trying to work out the best way to run it, even after all these years.

“It was a bit weird doing it in separate groups and I usually just sit on Sebby’s (Seb Ross) back shoulder, but I couldn’t do that this year.

“I’m pretty happy with my run though and across the board the boys are pretty fit, which is good to see.”

2021 Time Trial Top 10:

  1. Dan Hannebery
  2. Daniel McKenzie
  3. Jack Steele
  4. Jack Sinclair
  5. Sebastian Ross
  6. Ryan Byrnes
  7. Josh Battle
  8. Matthew Allison
  9. Bradley Hill
  10. Dan Butler