Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is strength and conditioning guru Billy Johnston the guy to turn the Cowboys around next season?

I love weeks like this where I get to talk about a couple of guys that I know well making news for all the right reasons.

The first is fitness guru, Billy Johnston. The big news is Johnston has signed on for three years with the North Queensland Cowboys as strength and conditioning coach.

Johnston has been with the new kids on the block, Gold Coast Titans, for the past two years, but all signs point to him heading back to the far north.

My mail has the official announcement of Johnston’s return as the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning coach happening as early as Monday.

As some of you may know, I trained under Johnston when he was with the Bulldogs and I played for the West Sydney Razorbacks. I can tell you from experience that he is worth the hype he receives. He runs a tight ship and there is never a doubt that his strict regime has the players physically prepared for whatever the opposition throws at them.

I personally believe one of his most underestimated skills is his ability to keep players off the injury list from those little niggles that cost a game or two here and there.

Under Billy, it is sometimes in a player’s best interest to stay off that list simply because they know they are going to work as hard, if not harder than when they are healthy.

Whether it is an early morning bike ride to Woodstock or swimming laps at Long Tan pool, there will be no cheating the system because Johnston will literally be right beside you counting every kilometer or lap you’ve done.

A word of warning to the Cowboys; last time I had spoken to Billy he had developed a passion for surf skiing. I can see it now, the Cowboys annual paddle over to Maggie Island.

Johnston’s interest in his guys does not stop when the last of them walks out the doors of training either. He has an uncanny ability to locate any one of his players at all hours of the day or night and I have a feeling this will go a long way toward curbing some of the team’s after dark, off-field activities.

If the Cowboys reclaim a position in the top four next season, he could prove to be their best off season signing.

My other mate, former Crocodile Brad Newley, has officially made his first Olympic Games team.

As many of you remember, Newley enjoyed three productive seasons with the Crocs and has spent the last eight months proving himself in Europe. Newley was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the NBA who are watching him build himself and his game on the international stage. He has done well so far and his success this year should equate to a lucrative multi year deal for the upcoming years. Now the Beijing Games are the icing on the cake.

When I lasted ‘chewed the fat’ with Brad he was a little nervous about making the team, which is understandable at this stage of the selection process.

Although you would like to be confident in your selection, as the numbers start to thin out you wonder whether you are the next name on the list of guys to go home. Playing in an Olympic Games is such an honour, you just don’t want to assume anything until you get the official nod.

A huge congratulation to Newls (and on a side note, congrats to Townsville Fire’s Rahanni Cox as well) on an Olympic selection. It is an experience of a lifetime.

You can find my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

Hoops Articles

Jason Smith is officially released from the South Dragons.

He's a big, strong, raw player right now, but he'll surprise you with his athleticism," Bryan Colangelo said of Nathan Jawai. "He has tremendous upside. He's a 22-year-old who has shown the ability to score in a variety of ways and he has great quickness and good footwork around the basket." Raptors GM Colangelo on Jawai. Courtesy of the Toronto Sun.

"Training up there (Dragons) and the experience of playing in the NBL last year prepares you more for playing with the Supercats as well, which is great," Nathan Herbert said. Dragons Herbert talks about his love for the game. Courtesy of the Geelong Advertiser.

Tasmania is now claiming newly crowned Olympian Shawn Redhage as one of theirs.

"I think there's no question now that the Boomers are genuine medal contenders". Words from Aussie basketball legend Andrew Gaze. Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

"We really have a talented group of guys going over and if we can push through the first round we have the ability to surprise everyone with our results," Anstey, NBL's reigning MVP and member of the national team who finished fourth in the 2000 Sydney Games, he told The Herald Sun.

Kiwi guard Kirk Penney believes they have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.

Last day results from the Orlando Summer League. Aaron Bruce has 7 assists.

Boxscores from Day 1 of the Vegas Summer League. (You have to sign up but the process is quite simple.)

Road To Redemption: Episode 1 - USA Olympic Team

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