With the team away during the international rugby window and Super Rugby on pause, we thought we’d take this opportunity to shine a light on a trio of women within the Blues organisation who keep the team performing at their absolute peak – on and off the field.
Kylie Wilson, Mental Skills Coach
One of the sharpest minds at the Blues belongs to mental skills coach Kylie Wilson (pictured), who helps our players cope with the pressures of professional sport. She works alongside the other coaches, sharpening the team’s mental skills, and helping the players better understand their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Moreover, she’s taught the team techniques to help them mentally prepare themselves for the rigours of training and playing professional rugby. “When the players have a gym session, they’re not just working their muscles,” she says.
“They’re also working their minds, their habits and using all the practices from mental skills training to optimise focus and push through barriers. The mind’s a very powerful thing, when you know how to use it.”
In other words, it’s often a case of mind over matter.
Heather McCrae, Massage Therapist
Massage therapist Heather McCrae has a crucial role to play not just in getting the guys ready for action every week of the Investec Super Rugby season, loosening up their muscles before the big game, but also treating them afterwards.
“Massage aids recovery,” she says, “as it enhances the flow of blood and oxygen through the body, relaxing muscle tissue and helping the body to repair itself. Working in conjunction with the team’s doctor, and the physiotherapist, a lot of what I do is focussed around rehab and recovery.”
Now in her sixth season with the Blues, Heather loves coming to work every week. “I love being part of this team and helping to keep our players operating at their peak. They truly are a great bunch of guys.”
Victoria Hood, Personal Development Manager
Personal development manager Victoria Hood demands almost as much from the players off the field, as Tana and the other coaches do on it. That’s because a large part of her role is about helping our players develop skills for life outside of rugby and after it. This often requires additional hard work on top of the many hours they already spend training.
That work could be in the form of study, work experience, or giving back to the community through charity work. “We believe that better people make better players,” she says. “Players need to continuously understand and demonstrate values and life skills. Without these essential foundations, high performance in sport can’t be reached.”
What she does to help develop players off the field can have huge benefits on it, especially in the areas of leadership, developing resilience, decision-making and managing challenges.