Training today in beautiful 25° weather, mostly sunny with scattered cloud and a light breeze.
The boys seemed up and about today and undertook training enthusiastically even though it was probably the last main session for the year. I guess some of them will be playing and training for their place in the squad next year. Interestingly, quite early in the session, the group gathered together on the oval with Heppell in the middle of the group facing Daniher. Now unfortunately from where I was viewing this I couldn’t see who was speaking but it seemed to be either Heppell or Daniher. Everyone was listening very intently and at the end of it all there was applause. As the group broke up Daniher shook hands with Merrett I think …and then training began. I’m sure there’s 100 versions of what that was all about that Blitz can conjure up.
In the rehab group were Ambrose (who looks in full beast mode and was moving really well - can’t wait for his return), Hird, Raz and Saad for a short time.
McGrath was there sporting a moonboot and crutches & Heppell was on his wheelie support with his foot in a cast.
Hurley was working 1:1 with Murphy going through what looked like a bit of a fitness test. He moved well and joined main training after that.
Saad also spent quite a bit of time with Murphy doing a range of movements and exercises … maybe relating to a sore back or shoulders (I really am just guessing at this).
The players broke into groups a number of times during the session. Initially for warm up stuff but later on to practise fast ball movement in & out of 50 and also for work on stoppages. There was no real indication whether there’d be anyone new in the team except that at one other time they gathered together and applauded something. It didn’t seem to be overly exuberant so again I’m not sure what that was about either.
Everybody who joined in training moved well including Francis who delivered some fantastic passes at all sorts of angles. Bryan looked great also and showed his athleticism when marking and against Draper in the ruck at times.
The full ground match play still looked static with a lack of movement up the ground as you would see with the likes of Richmond & Geelong, and the ball being kicked high into packs & subsequently turned over. Shiel stood out here, moving fast, delivering the ball well and presenting again further up the ground.
There were a number of small group drills on ball movement but with a lack of pressure on the ball carrier it’s hard to tell how successful that would be in a real game.
One drill at the end that I really liked was with all the talls. Rutten took them to a separate oval where he instructed them on using position to out mark an opponent (something we really fell down in against Port). The big guys went against each other one on one. Hooker was outstanding. He did not get beaten and at one contest he shoved Stewart in the chest causing him to fly backwards like a rag doll, landing flat on his bum- much to the amusement of everyone watching. In this group were Joe, BZT, Phillips, Smack, Draper, Bryan & McBride. It was great to see Joe helping McBride with positioning in the contest. There was also practise with taking the mark at the highest point.
Overall it was an upbeat session with everyone training except the 5 long term injuries (pity there are not more games now for the likes of Gown, McBride & Jones to have a run. Begley looks like a big unit too - pity he hasn’t been able to get into the midfield as his size is just what we need.)
I should also mention that TBell was there but did not train so it looks like there’s no farewell game for him.