WALES Women completed a month of pre-season training ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this autumn.

The squad has been training for a month on a full-time basis, with 31 players on Welsh Rugby Union contracts since the start of the month with others playing a full part in the programme.

The schedule has pushed the team to their limits including an emphasis on different forms of fitness work.

Donna Rose feels the heat during Wales women's training 'week from hell'. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans AgencyWales Women work hard in training Credit: Welsh rugby union

Head coach Ioan Cunningham is pleased with the team’s progress during the training programme.

Donna Rose feels the heat during Wales women's training 'week from hell'. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans AgencyWales women face tough hill jog Credit: Welsh rugby union

He said: “I must credit the girls; they have really bought into what we asked of them throughout the month.

“We pushed them hard with the aim of making them feel uncomfortable in sessions in order to overcome obstacles they will face in the next few months.

"We wanted to stress them to prepare them for what will be in store in New Zealand, but we are pleased with the way they’ve responded.

“Fitness is massive for us; we want to pride ourselves on our fitness and we want to be a team that is known for the intensity in the way we play.

“We have seen some personal bests in the gym and in terms of high-speed metres which are rewarded

“We also know the players are coping better with the increased running volume and some of the unseen work is pleasing too.”

Donna Rose feels the heat during Wales women's training 'week from hell'. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans AgencyWales Women work hard in gruelling training programme Credit: Welsh rugby union

Wales Women will complete their traning camp in Canada where they will face the home nation on August 27 in Halifax, before travelling to Bristol on September 14 to play England.

After putting hard work on the field and in gym, the players have been challenged to adapt to change.

Cunningham added: “We are going to be away from home for an extended period, we are going to need to adapt to challenges, so we wanted to test the squad out in various ways.

Donna Rose feels the heat during Wales women's training 'week from hell'. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency

“So, we’ve been off site for several team challenges, and we’ve kept them on their toes on a day-to-day basis.

“We’ve also heard from some brilliant guest speakers who have performed at the highest level in their own sports.

“The players have a week off now and then we will focus more on preparing for our matches against Canada and England while still staying on top of our fitness.”

Donna Rose feels the heat during Wales women's training 'week from hell'. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans AgencyWorking hard at MOD St Athan Credit: Welsh rugby union

Wales hooker Carys Phillips is flourishing on the full-time environment and believes she is in the shape of her life.

She said: “It’s been so good to be back together this month. The additional contracts means everyone can train during the daytime so we can get a lot more done.

“Training has been tough. This last week was labelled hell week and it certainly lived up to its name, but we are seeing the benefits each week.

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“From my perspective, I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in. I’ve still got improvements to make but I’ve lost 7kg, my shape has changed, I’m hitting some PBs and I’m certainly moving in the right direction.

“It’s a change of mindset. We have great support now; we’re pushing ourselves harder than we’ve pushed ourselves before and I’m thriving on it.

Donna Rose feels the heat during Wales women's training 'week from hell'. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans AgencyPushing their limit in training Credit: Welsh rugby union

“As a squad too, the girls have been pushing each other throughout the month. It’s not about getting there first; it’s about getting there together.

“This world cup is massive for me. It’s a big one being in New Zealand. I’ve been through some personal challenges but I’m in a great place now.

“I’m really happy with where I am personally.”

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