Joe Cator has reviewed the opening week of pre-season training for the Black & White squad under new head coach Brett Hodgson, explaining a strong sense of ‘togetherness’ is what the new boss is expecting of his squad in the coming weeks.
One of the stand-out performers of 2020 for the Airlie Birds, the 22-year old says he is feeling fresh and ready to carry on where he left off with his positive form last season.
Speaking to hullfc.com, Cator said: “It is always good to be back – to be back in the company of my teammates after having a month off.
“With the way the country is at the moment and all the restrictions in place, I’d much rather be at training than stuck at home not being able to do much.
“I feel good physically, and ready and determined as ever – obviously I had a solid season in 2020 but there is always room to improve your game and get better, and that starts on the training field in pre-season.
He added: “We have a few new faces around the place, including a new head coach, so we need to do a bit of learning about how he wants us to play and find out what kind of team he wants us to be.
“Obviously the main aim as a squad is to go one step further than we went last season, and getting so close to a final last year makes us all that bit more determined to reach that next step.”
Cator impressed in the first days of pre-season, finishing ahead of the rest of the squad in Monday’s bleep test, with the opening day of training featuring some high intensity running in the chilly wintery conditions.
“The backs will be fuming at me!” he added. “But I’ve always said that having high levels of fitness is really important to me, and I’m always sure that I am on top of that.
“If there is anything I can hang my hat on, it is my energy levels, so I like to make sure I replicate that on the training field too.”
The reigning Young Player of the Year from 2020 also explained the influence that new head coach Brett Hodgson is already having on the group, and described what is expected of the squad by the new boss.
“With it being week one, it has been pretty low key, but we have had a few meetings and we’ve been told what is expected of us and alluded to what he wants to see from us out on the field.
“Being hard-working, and moving off the ball, and having each others backs was some of the key messages.
“He is starting to embed the way he wants us to play, but there will be a lot more of that to come in the next few weeks as we move into the more technical stuff.”
A key message in Hodgson’s team meetings was the importance of togetherness amongst the squad, and Cator believes this is something already starting to improve amongst his teammates after a positive end to last season.
“Towards the back end of last season, I think we really started to see a lot more of that already. The good moods and high spirits come off the back of winning.
“When you’re in a rut of form, you’re going to turn up to training with your heads down. But we started building some real positivity towards the back end of 2020 with some strong results. So it is important we continue that into 2021.”
He continued: “If people are struggling, instead of shouting at them, we’re all about picking them up and giving them a helping hand. That is really important across the group. That breathes positivity and helps everyone along the way. Having that is really important in a squad – its about togetherness, not just yourself.”
Cator also commented on the arrival of former NRL star Josh Reynolds, who trained with the rest of his teammates for the first time on Thursday, though is still awaiting his first on-field session in his new environment.
“He said he was pretty cold! He turned up with no socks on so he will need to change that and get some knee high ones!
“But he seems like a great bloke and ready to rip in for us which is what we need.
“He hasn’t been out on the field with us yet but I’m looking forward for the opportunity to get out there alongside him.”