So I went out to training today. Here is some observations.
Tstatas and Hayes were at training and completed half of the drills then did some light running or watching from the sidelines. Standard slow intergration of new draftees to help not over do their management loads early on= similar to last years group. All the Indigenious boys were at an Indigenious camp in Geelong. No sign of Stringer, Jones, Phillips, Shiel, Laverde, Stewart, Ridley and McBride, Cox was walking around fine with no strapping or obvious concerns, seemed to have just a minor injury at best. Caldwell did half the non- contact drills but then was removed when contact drills came in to protect the shoulder from recent surgery. Not long till he joins contact i hear…he is looking super fit and must of ran around 10km today. Moving better to the eye than last year. Langford was in the rehab group and clearly seemed to point to his lower back being the issue. I sense pre-caution as he still did quite a few running drills.
Today was my first training session so far and I must admit you get quite an instant shock how many staff/coaches are on the ground. Last year would of been around 6-7 (4-5 coaches). I counted around 15 today (9-10 coaches). Overall there seems to be a much bigger emphasis on improving our skills. Many drills were skills based and even some match simulation drills were all about retaining possesion of the ball and choosing the right option. Most of the match simulation type drills were tight in close drills where you had to make a decision fast and with precise disposal. Overall the skills seemed quite good for December 2nd. I watched Tsatas in this match sim drill and he nailed every pass from the 20-40 metre range and I thought his technique on the kicking was very sound. Had no long kicks so will see how that looks another time. Tastas also had a bit more muscle definition in his arms. than i was expecting…not huge by any means but his frame was stronger than i thought. Hayes was welcomed to the group today with some nice applause but he was understandably nervous in the drills. No doubt he has some weight to put on.
So who stood out? Menzie was really impressive. When they did 3/4 oval length match sim he was all over the place. Was a great link up through the midfield and his skills were elite. Just moving well and was much more bolder and aggressive to find the footy.
Martin really does look like he could take another step up. Man he was impressive to watch today…just a gifted calm footballer that sees the game slowly and makes the right decision every time.
I joked with the training guys that I am too afraid to say this next name but If I am consistent i have to be honest. We all agreed that this is the best Heppell has moved for 3-4 years. Unsure why or how but he was clearly top 5 today…strangely his skills were bang on and aggressive. We will see how he goes as he probably would know he needs to fight for best 22 tbh…but its by far the best i have seen him move(with better pace) for a long time. Maybe a long pre-season pain and injury free has really helped. We did notice though he was much more quiter than normal and wondered if that was possibly symbolic with letting other next gen leaders be the voice. Hope so as its likely time for someone else to take over.
Draper was moving better without the ball to make sure he is getting in better spots to be an option. That maybe comes with fitness too but he got plenty of the footy through midfeild chain link up. He has again been working on his ball drop and its a bit closer with hand to foot again. He clearly wants to be better and fitter. Pleasing to see
Other players that were solid - McGrath, Perkins, Merrett and Guelfi. Hobbs was super competitive and moving well…just a few shank kicks that lead to turnovers. He got very mad at himself and you can see he is trying to improve that area. Kicked a nice snap goal saying that and won plenty of the footy.
Watched Weirdeman for awhile and his moving well…took some nice marks on the lead…bit like when Wright started…his one on one marking was not great. Has to get better and being more physical with his opponent and want it. Hoping someone like Hurls can help in that as i thought he was great at training helping Wright improve that area with Truck also.
On the other side Parish was off today…just did not have his kicking boots on at all. Felt a bit like he is going through the motions till all the group start soon and it ramps up.
Overall the session was quite sharp for Dec 2nd and the skills were solid. Lots of goal kick practice i should say also today. Session went for about 3 hours.
Sunshine and footy…perfect