Training at Tullamarine in muggy, overcast conditions with a variable breeze from the north.
The good news is that Francis joined in full training today and lasted the entire session. I saw Draper have his first kicks today - two on the small oval. He kicks pretty well with a straight leg and good follow through although from an aesthetic viewpoint perhaps a little stiffly. On a point of trivia the other day he used his soccer skills to play ‘keepy up’ with a football and achieved a pb of nine.
I can’t keep avoiding the Joe watch question. Joe is doing heaps of running along with Watson but no kicking, a pattern we have seen for some weeks. I don’t pretend to know why and part of it may be to increase his aerobic capacity and perhaps he is doing goal kicking away from the ground.
While it’s fair enough to be moderately concerned perhaps before you slit your wrists you should take a different perspective. People have continually told me how impressed they are with our depth this year. If the worst comes to the worst it may provide an opportunity to try some new forward combinations to replace Joe’s 2 plus goals a game. Move Hooker to chf, Francis to ff and Stewart third tall, second ruck.
What do you think?
While on the subject of Stewart he was very impressive today. Admittedly he kicked into the mark after taking a one hander over Hurley but later he slung Hurley aside to take a diving mark but most impressively of all in the match play he used his pace and sidestepped two defenders before hitting a target on his left with a right foot kick.
There was an eight to six drill today within the fifty metre arc where the eight attackers had to make space and see how many targets they could hit within a forty second time limit. The worst was eight and the best was eighteen. I mention this drill because it gives an insight to the programme to improve skills.
With this drill and some of the others it seems to,me they are looking for three things:
- good, quick decision making
- accurate disposal
Practise and self criticism will improve the first two goals but it is the talking that really lifts the overall functioning as a team and keep turnovers to a minimum. As a player marks teammates should be screaming at the player where to kick it to next. Although they were working on this a lot of the talk was coming from the coaches and not enough from the players during the course of the session. However the talk must be useful e.g. One of the coaches yelled “fantastic, great skill level” despite the fact that Stanton had dropped two marks.
Karma Bomber whose photos will appear later notes how much we have been missing Myers who is training very well and he also points to Jake Long’s improved fitness - he is keeping up with people like Zaka right to the end of the session.
I haven’t written much about the value of the venue for some time but consider this. Crow and the fitness staff are located up on the balcony with the computers and in communication with the trainers. The players were split into two groups on the TWO ovals for ball movement work, both sessions being timed precisely from on high. Two ovals is a great advantage and leads to very professional sessions.
Hurley went to ground after taking a heavy knock to the ribs and Doc Reid raced out (as fast as the good doctor can race) but he was mainly winded and went back to full training. I seem to get a question about Morgan every session from someone who may be a relative of his. He trained well today and did a nice running spoil on Eades and there were calls of “fantastic Morgo” and “outstanding”. Zac Merret was in everything today and Colyer’s pace showed out to advantage while Fanta was busy around goals and Hooker kicked three at full forward with some good leading and one nice long shot with a tricky breeze.
I continue to be impressed with McKenna’s disposal which is pinpoint. At one point he did a handball on the backline then buttered up for a return handball receive before kicking a long pin point pass to Fantasia in the forward pocket. There was a tricky breeze, he had to kick over two defenders but drop the ball ,just inside the boundary line for Fantasia to mark. It was a brilliant kick and he is a strong contender for a running half back flank position although he must continue to work on his defensive skills and his decision making about when to run off an opponent.
A long, punishing session today and the younger players began to feel the effects towards the end of the second hour. in a repeat goal kicking drill on the run from forty metres out Francis who had been very good early missed three shots for goal in a row and to my mind it was most likely fatigue. In the last goal kicking drill in this sequence the players averaged a low 50 percent accuracy as fatigue set in.
An impressive session today - please don’t ask me any questions that might involve things like ranking Reynolds, Coleman And Sheedy as coaches, at least not until after Christmas.