Where do you feel as far as your football IQ? Where it is now as opposed to a year ago?
A lot better. I know obviously the routes and protections and I guess the basics. So it's just trying to fit what I learned this year and put it into what I learn this year.
Were you able to do much with time away from the building to learn and grow in that area, from the shoulders up?
No, not really. I just obviously had to break in and really freshen up. Obviously you still think about it, but as far as studying and all that stuff I enjoyed my time away and now we're back in working I'm starting a bit earlier than everyone else, that's been great. It's been about what I learned last year and putting it into this year's game.
What are your first impressions on Chip Kelly and how he might integrate you more into this team?
Obviously we're learning a new system at the moment and that's the biggest part for us. We're doing conditioning at the moment. We're not out on the field with the coaches. It's just studying and learning the basic plays and basic formations.
Are there things about that playbook that might upset you more than last year's when you were learning it?
Oh it's a learning curve, wouldn't know any of that stuff at the moment. It's about conditioning and learning the basics of the playbook.
Will you be playing running back or special teams again, might Chip have something different for you? Have you talked about that?
You're going to have to ask Chip. It's like I said it's conditioning and learning the playbook.
But he hasn't said anything to you?
Are you feeling more confident than last year and what areas do you think you've improved upon from this time last year.
Well obviously, I know the basics of a playbook. The biggest difference from last year was can you piece plays together from what we called last year to what we called this year?That was probably the biggest thing. Kinda feel like the blueprint of a playbook, learning the new calls and being able to put them and obviously change them into the systems we have now.
Yeah. Not a lot obviously. It's conditioning at the moment so we're all working hard. I think probably for me the one thing I worked on was my hips and being able to get low and hip strength was probably the biggest thing that we focused on in the offseason.
Have you had a chance to sit down and actually speak with Chip and what did he say to you?
Nothing has been said?
Oh I see him. I've said hello to him. But it's like I said, it's conditioning and we're in classrooms with position coaches. That's really at the moment. We don't really spend that much time in the rooms with the coaches because of the rules and the CBA rules. Not sure if you're aware of that. Obviously, everything moves really fast. We're just trying to educate ourselves as much as we can with the time we have.
Do you feel like you have to prove yourself all over again? Starting all over again?
Not really, like I said, I learned a lot last year and got a blueprint now. It's about going over there and perfecting the playbook and understanding what scheme you're running and executing it at a high level.
Is it also a bit easier for you knowing that there's not a culture shock and you don't have to adapt to American life like you had to a year ago?
Definitely and those things, they help a lot together. Come in and know what to expect. That was the biggest difference from last year. I think I'm a lot more comfortable to come in and learn straight away. Probably the first four days were obviously a bit of a shock and reminded me of last year, but then I've been able to just study and fall for everything to come a lot faster than it did last year. It's kind of remembering the calls of last year, and refreshing that and putting the new calls in my head and changing what we use to call last year to what we will call this year.
Chip Kelly's system puts a big emphasis on conditioning and uptempo. Do you have an advantage in that way having that Rugby league background? Your conditioning must be very good.
I think mentally I do, but physically we're all out there doing conditioning we know it's a bit more running than what we did last year. I think physcially we're going to have to adapt to that system. We're all excited for it.
Can you tell us in your own words what's the ultimate dream for the season?
You know, like I said last year, I don't think too far ahead. I'm just taking a day as it comes, enjoying the process as of learning every day. I really enjoyed watching how the scheme works and what the coaches are looking for. So I just really embrace it every day. And making sure that what we learn in the classroom knowing that in the next couple weeks we'll be taking it to the field and be able execute.
Joe [49ers offensive tackleJoe Staley] just said a moment ago that there wouldn't be as much leniancy for you this year. Do you feel like there is more pressure?
I put as much pressure on myself than anyone else.
When you say you worked on your hips, how do you do that without coaches, without teammates, how do you do that on your own in the offseason?
It's more just strength more than anything. And that was the biggest thing to me. Just strength through my hips and glutes. I was able to work on that with my guys back in Australia. and that translates to the field. I've done a lot of that. It's just able to keep onto it and really keep a focus on it. I'm tall as well so that makes it even harder.
Does a lot of that have to do with squats? Do you incorporate a lot of squats into your workouts?
Yeah I guess it's more balance not so much the strength. Being able to balance when I go down, everyone can get low but it's about being able to maintain your balance and be able to come out overcut strong and be able to do that at a high speed. Those are the biggest things for me that I've been focusing on.
What did it mean to you when you found out Coach Rathman [49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman] will be coming back?
Yeah, it was great. I know how he works, I know how he coaches. He's definitely a coach that has high expectations of his players and loves us to know everything. He wants us to be able to go out on that field and know everything that's going on. Like I said, he puts a lot of high expectations on the running backs, and we know that in the classroom.
You mentioned studying. Is any of that going back and watching Eagles tape and their offense last few years?
Obviously there's a bit with the players and whatnot. But I think it's knowing the formations and the playcalls. those are the biggest things. In a couple weeks we'll be out there, it's one thing to know it in the classroom and get it right, but when you're out there going fast that is when it really matters.
Any cheat sheets in the shorts this year?
I've thought about it. Like I said, over the weekend it kinda just came to me and I'm standing a lot more faster than I did last year. We'll see how we go, and if it needs to come out it might make an appearance again.
What was it like going back home and every week on Twitter there was a story about you going back to Rugby League?
Yeah, I guess at the start of it it got a bit annoying, probably during last season. I guess it was disappointing but that's the media back there. They tend to make stories up whether it's to sell papers or get more viewers. I'm accustomed to that and I know how they operate. For me, I knew where I was going, and obviously maintain focus and not let it get to me. It's upsetting when you see fans react according to what they read or what news was on that evening.That was disappointing but iI think it's time to get used to the stories that are coming out that aren't true.
What did it mean to you when it clicked on the weekend, the playbook, you were just saying then it was sinking in. What did that mean to you?This time last year you were saying how you were into the book, up all night reading it...?
It was obviously very satisfying. It felt like anything when you can understand something, you get a lot of joy and that's what it was. It was weird, I was studying Monday to Thursday and I was like, "You know what? I'm just going to have a day off, just to clear my head." And I did that and come Saturday I was ok, and Sunday I just went boom, boom boom, and it felt great. I've learned the majority of the calls and whatnot but it's about piecing them together. It's difficult, but it's a challenge and I enjoy it.