Daryl Millard on the Paleo Diet
UPDATE 2012 - Daryl played for the Exiles and he won the IRN-BRU award for one of the most freakish post siren tries you will ever see. He played 24 regular season games and scored 14 tries in the regular season. Congratulations to Daryl for taking his professionalism to another level in 2012.
When Daryl came to the club it was a last-minute deal just as the season was getting started. Wakefield were having some financial troubles and a few players had left the club as a result. At the Catalan Dragons we still had one position open for a foreign player and centre was the preferred position. Being such a late move on the back of a poor season in 2010 there wasn’t a great deal of excitement from fans, or our local media about the move. For the Dragons having signed big name international players like Greg Bird, Stacey Jones and Dane Carlaw, Daryl’s 60 first grade games (12-Dragons, 48-Bulldogs) and Fijian international status didn’t bring too much attention.
Like most of our signings for the year, Daryl was a young guy with a point to prove. He had signed a one year deal and was fighting to stay in top flight professional rugby league. From our initial interview I knew he was going to do his best to make his stay in France a successful one. But I didn’t realise just how far he was willing to go!
When we went through Daryl’s injury history and did some basic strength tests it was clear that I was working with an athlete, but one who needed some serious work to get his body back to a level where he could express his football ability. Often with a hard training player like Daryl it’s tough to get gains after missing the pre-season (where most gains are usually made). The grind of the 30 plus match marathon that is Super League is far from an optimal time for strength gains. That said, his initial strength and power levels were unimpressive for a guy with plenty of NRL experience who obviously knows how to play the game.
We decided on our strategy – lots of work on technique for upper body lifts, converting to the Paleo diet (which really is a lifestyle in Daryl’s case if you’ve seen the chickens!) and building some lower body strength; the base for power gains. It was a good plan until Daryl rolled his ankle on the vertical jump test in one of his first session. Six weeks later, while still finding his way with the team he got a hamstring strain and then re-injured it when he was almost due to rejoin the team. Now this could have been enough to ruin Daryl’s make-or-break season, but when he got back on the field the extra work he had put in started to pay off. Daryl ended up having the most in season strength gains of any player in the squad and he backed them up on the field with lots of great plays. His skills, ethic and decision-making and his improving athleticism was an important part of an improving Dragon’s outfit that marched into the finals in 6thplace. Not a bad result coming from last place in 2009/10!
The best thing for me about working with Daryl is his ability to change habits and implement the things that work for him. On the Paleo Diet, Daryl made immediate gains in muscle-mass, strength and general health. His shoulders stopped aching and feeling “out of alignment.” His girlfriend Libby even commented that she worried about whether he would be able to pick up and run around with their future children! If Libby was worrying about that you can imagine what it was like getting through the load of tackling, wrestling and weight training that professional rugby league players go through.
With the 2012 season only weeks away I’m excited to see how Daryl and the rest of the team’s work is going to pay off. Pre-season is like working on a race car in the garage, you can tinker with it and make it look good, you can even rev the engine a bit but until you get it on the track you can’t know exactly what the result will be. There’s no doubt that Daryl has done everything that’s been asked of him both during his time in Australia and in the pre-season to be ready when the rubber hits the road for our first trial game versus Wakefield this week.
I’m excited about 2012 with the Catalan’s Dragons but what’s even more rewarding than scoring more points than the opposition (which I hope we can do more often than not) is having a positive influence on the way players go about living their dreams. The changes in lifestyle that Daryl and others in the Dragons team are creating, are habits for life that overflow to their families, and as role models they can powerfully influence the wider community. Daryl’s back doesn’t ache when he walks anymore and his shoulders are happier in their sockets. He’s now more organised than me with preparing gourmet Paleo meals. He’s broken almost all his records from 2011 in the gym and he’s living life the way he chooses. We’ve even rented land to grow our own vegetables together with Louie Anderson, Damien Blanch and Clint Greenshields. Eloi Pelissier supported our project by giving Louie 2 hens as his secret santa!
These are the biggest victories as a coach. Soon they might just convert into on-field accolades and the possibilities that come with winning games.
Check out my interview with Daryl here.
The new year is always a good time to reflect on your current path in life and make some changes in trajectory if you’re not on target to achieve your purpose in life. If I can play any part in that process please feel free to post a Question in the Q&A section or on my KeeganSH.com facebook page. For more about Daryl’s journey check out DarylMillard.wordpress.com