Training in hot windy conditions at Tullamarine.
The players were flogged on the track for three hours today and stood up to it very well.
All the training took place on the McCracken Oval where a strong wind blew down the ground from the airport end. Two hours were taken up with a practice match - two thirds of the players on the ground and one third resting. The action was relentless punctuated by only a few short drinks breaks.
At first play was a bit scrappy with the wind but I felt the players settled into their stride and coped better today than some of the earlier windier sessions that I have previously remarked on.
If I compare training now to the start of the preseason I think that players are hitting targets more consistently and have improved in their knowledge of where to run which is starting to pay dividends in quicker ball movement although there are still plenty of times when the player with the ball delays unable to make a quick decision as to the best option and perhaps being afraid of being criticised for making a mistake.
Bomber has constantly stressed "take the first option" and this is beggining to bear fruit and I get the impression that the players appreciate the instant feedback that they are receiving at training.
There is still a great need though not to just concentrate on the next possession but to anticipate where the ball might end up in the next couple of moves and to run to that spot.
I think that Bomber will be looking for those players who are prepared to have a physical presence and do the one percenters - tap ons, blocks, shepherds etc. that will gain possession and then have the ball moved quickly down the corridor accurately hitting targets.
I'll start with Jetta today seeing that I had a lot to say about him on Wednesday. Jetta needs to chase and tackle and dish the ball off quickly rather than dancing around with it but I thought he was pretty good today particularly in the first half of the session and his efforts included laying several tackles.
There is a lot of interest in Kav and I have to say he doesn't do too much wrong. His disposal was good today, he did lots of running and is an excellent team player and link man and is a good chance to be a regular in the side by season's end.
Two of the new recruits showed a lot of promise today - Edwards has pace, excellent run and thoughtful disposal which is very encouraging. Zac Merrett gets where the ball is and rarely wastes a disposal by hand or foot and just seems a natural footballer. In build he is somewhat similar to Chapman and certainly looks like a player of the future.
I thought Winderlich was possibly the best player out there today. He knocked up getting possessions on the forward line and his experience is invaluable. e.g. He took a beautiful mark from a long high ball kicked with the wind by correctly anticipating the drop of the ball and turning his body to protect the ball from the opponent closely checking him from behind. I believe he has had thirteen hamstrings over the years but if he can stay fit he will kick lots of goals.
Ryder came good towards the end of the session perhaps because he was well held early on and got very few possessions. A criticism of his game is that he takes very few marks for a big man and doesn't get a lot of possessions to complement his excellent ruck work. I suspect he needs to work harder and get to more contests which interestingly was Simon Madden's criticism of Bellchambers in his early years.
Steinberg and Dell were both good today - if someone is to be elevated I suspect it will be one of these two with Steinberg with his extra height and ability to play both ends probably putting him slightly in front.
Looking at the way training has been structured I get the impression that Bomber will play Daniher every possible game come hell or high water and will be prepared to accept the mistakes he makes because he will probably not develop much further in the VFL
I thought the players put in very well in trying conditions today - I was tired just from watching.