Image: Highflyer Images

By JEFF STEPHENSON

IT was a matter of course that Cody Fullarton would become a rugby league player.

Along with the rest of his family he was ruby league mad and as he progressed through the junior age groups there was a sneaky feeling he might go on to the highest level.

If you ask him now, he’d acknowledge he would have loved to have made it all the way to the Brisbane Broncos.

That he didn’t might be a slight disappointment, but Cody is more than happy to set out his achievements of playing Queensland Cup with Ipswich and Easts, either as full-back or wing, as noteworthy.

You can also ask him his impressions of rugby league these days and the answer will be a tad different to the one he might have proffered a few short years ago.

“I watch far more AFL now and unless the Broncos are playing, well I’d hardly see any of it,” he said.

Cody is now fully entrenched in his role as Strength and Conditioning Coach at Redland, where he is now into his sixth season and to say he’s enamoured with the club and his involvement with the Bombers – well, yep – that would be an understatement.

He’s the man who sets the pre-season training programs which are demanding and tough and designed to bring each player in the group to the standard required to play at the NEAFL level.

You would think because of that there would be a love-hate situation with the players, but to a man, they regard Cody with the utmost respect as the result of him helping to bring an increased level of professionalism to the playing ranks.

“You’d think that when one season ends, we’d have 12 to 14 weeks of the off-season to enjoy.

“But within a week or two I’ll be getting calls from players asking me when the pre-season starts, or can I prepare something special for them to do from home.

“It’s quite incredible.”

His pre-seasons involve a lot of running – up to 30 or 40 kms a week.

But there is so much more.

It’s designed to be competitive, but also fun – well as fun as you can get, while as many as 40 guts are being busted.

Cody must determine the fitness levels of each player, check their skinfolds, initiate this program and that course of exercises, make decisions on which players need more work and how to handle the more senior among them.

It’s scientific stuff and the advances in physiology mean it’s a whole lot different than even just four or five years ago.

But what it all really gets down to is the infamous 2-kilometre time trial.

It’s the be all and end all.

“Unless you can run a certain time over the two kilometres you simply won’t be able to compete at NEAFL level,” Cody said.

“You either do it or you get left behind.

“We’ve got such a competitive group here they all manage to get through.

“The good thing is our times continue to improve each year.”

For a man with a young family – his children are five and three – he’s incredibly busy.

He can spend 10-15 hours at the club during a typical week and on game days he sets up the rooms, readies the GPS systems, puts out the pre-game supplements and he’ll help with the strapping.

“Some of the boys are a bit precious and like me to do their strapping, but others line up with the other trainers,” he said with the obligatory wink.

“It’s just the way it goes.”

Then, when all the pre-game preparation is done and dusted, Cody reverts to his normal game-day duty as the team runner, when against Northern Territory last week, he clocked up 11 kilometres.

Phew – he hardly has time for a breather – but he loves every moment of his match-day routine.

It should also be noted Cody lives at Kenmore, which means it’s more than hour’s travel each time he heads to Scottsdale Park.

“You could say I appreciate it when the pre-season is held in or near the city and the western suburbs,” he said.

Cody was introduced to Redland when then Bombers’ physio Lindsay Trigar invited him along during his early years of study and he then joined AFL Queensland working with the under 16 and 18 teams that developed into a seven-year stint.

“I was at Lindsay’s one day when I had a chance meeting with Phil Carse and he was telling me about how the NEAFL was becoming more professional and they were looking for a strength and conditioning coach.

“Lindsay threw my name into the ring and here I am”.

Cody has seen plenty of players come and go but gets a real kick when a Redland footballer is drafted into the AFL.

And there have been a few in his time.

“That’s what we’re doing.

“We’re preparing a pathway to the AFL, trying to make every player as professional as possible and setting guidelines for recovery and managing injuries.

“And we try to limit the off-field antics as much as we can.

“When you see a couple of players drafted, well, that’s pretty exciting.”

Now, having dealt with more than 100 footballers in the course of the last six years, does Cody have a favourite – that one player who stands out?

Well, yes, he does.

Take a bow Josh Smith.

The former Redland Dowling Medallist, ex-Collingwood, now West Coast midfielder is Cody’s “all-time favourite athlete.”

“Josh was strong and he was fit and he made my figures look great.

“He was the real professional.”

It’s no surprise then to learn that at both the Magpies and the Eagles he is always either first or second in those two-minute time trials we were talking about before.

Cody runs his own business – Full-Time Fitness – in Spring Hill, which also keeps him busy, although he does enjoy his regular Wednesday golf.

He’s handy too, playing off a handicap of five.

And should you think those summer months are generally a quieter time, then think again.

“I also look after the Northern Suburbs cricket team and that keeps me occupied.”

In his five-and-a-bit years with Redland, Cody has missed just one game, but he’s got a couple of weddings later this year clashing with away trips to Canberra and Darwin.

“I know the team will function without me,” he said.

“But I’ll be writing out some little lists, just the same.”

Yes Cody, they will survive without you, but it will be a challenge, that’s for sure.

GO BOMBERS – and just for you Cody – GO BRONCOS!!!!

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