The Convicts have started a gruelling training campaign in the lead-up to the Mark Bingham Cup.

Just five weeks before heading off to Dublin, the boys have amped up the training sessions and even employed a Russian trainer to get them into peak condition to defend their 2006 Championship Cup.

To maintain their title, the Convicts will have to play and conquer in six games over three days while in Dublin.

To get physically and emotionally ready, they have increased their preparation schedule to include two nights of training a week in addition to their weekly match and have employed the services of a personal trainer, Vladimir Piskalic, affectionately known to them as Vlad the Impaler.

To see this massive group of people running up and down the park is fantastic, Vlad, who takes obvious glee in his role, told Sydney Star Observer.

Each one of them has different physical abilities, so I have worked to build up the training sessions from 30 minutes a session to an hour. The trainings are getting harder and tougher with each session.

They call me names sometimes, but I don’t train them for them to like me. I want them to feel their training, push the limits and get the muscle fibres receiving the messages so they can come back winners.

The team will be heading over with 60 players and support staff, and hopefully returning with a title, which will make all the pain worthwhile.

To join the Sydney Convicts or to follow their matches, head to www.sydneyconvicts.org. To benefit from Vladimir’s services, head to Fitness First Kings Cross.

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