Bulls coach Francis Cummins has warned his players to stay in tip-top condition during their Christmas break.

Cummins’ squad will undergo their final training session of the year today before breaking for the festive period and returning on January 3.

The Bulls chief opted against playing a Boxing Day friendly due to not wanting to risk injuries to his small squad.

Nevertheless, he has been delighted with the commitment of his troops during pre-season and has urged them to not only maintain their fitness levels but to come back in even better shape.

Cummins said: “The players have 11 days off now, which will be very much a download period because they have trained the house down so they’re going to need it.

"But we can’t keep training like this – we’ve been doing it for seven weeks now and with the contact they’re doing, it takes its toll. Therefore you need to give them time to recover.

“However, they have programmes to follow during this break and they’ve got to come back and make sure they hit certain standards.

“We’re actually expecting them to be fitter when they come back than they are now because their body will recover, and obviously they’ll be training as well.

“But they’ll be ready to go again in January and then we’ll continue our pre-season through to the friendlies.”

Cummins has had his players in for six days a week during pre-season and they have spoken of how tough the schedule has been.

They have also applauded their coach’s methods in preparing them for the rigours of the 2013 campaign, which is just six weeks away.

Cummins said: “We’re not far away at all now, to the point where we are doing more game-related stuff.

“We’ve been concentrated on core skill and now we’re upping it to team-based exercises and putting systems more in place.

“We’re looking in more detail at some of the things we’ve done – and in fact, the players are getting to the point where they want to play.

“You can see it in training with the level of contact. You can just see they are ready to go again, which is good.”

Head of strength and conditioning Tom Clough’s methods have been met with widespread approval by the Bulls squad and Cummins has constantly reinforced a message to his players about investing in their careers.

“I think with every coach you have different ideas anyway,” said Cummins.

“The way we have done pre-season, we have had them in for six days officially, although one of them is a rest day where we recover together.

“We’ve done it differently and obviously the conditioning is different. But that’s the way to do it; it’s to spark them up as well.

“We’ve said right from the start that we need to do it differently and we need to make sure that we’re all better for this pre-season because it’s so important.”