Training in hot conditions at Tullamarine.
Absent Eades, Colyer, Luenberger, Draper
A long, gruelling session today with a practice match interspersed with drills.
The players look extremely fit and in the practice match it was almost a case of holding them back in their enthusiasm. Lots of talk and pointing to set up during the game and I think we can see a much more fluid ball movement up and down the ground.The individual highlight was a dash through the centre of the ground and goal by Fantasia - I think he took six bounces but Karma Bomber thought eight. I’ll go with eight and pose the question has anyone ever seen an Essendon player take more than eight bounces?
I’m frequently asked if anyone has stood out in the preseason and I think I’ve made up my mind - Stewart was a standout at CHF forward showing pace and good leading skills and, joy of joy, kicked straight for two goals.
McGrath was also impressive, clean hands and good reading of the play saw him getting to plenty of contests. Langford with his long kicking and Dea with his close defensive work both caught the eye and the half back flank positions are going to be fiercely contested as Stanton and Gleeson are also playing well. Watson showed a lot of class today with unflustered handballs and pleasing disposal by foot.
Francis and Howlett spent a good deal of time on the smaller oval today. Benny did a heap of running and I think he is just being managed. Apparently Francis didn’t do terribly well in the post Christmas time trial which may be the reason he was given running but I don’t really know and don’t want to draw an incorrect conclusion.
The big problem this preseason is in the rucking. Basically we seem to be running out of ruckman as McKernan and Hartley handled the rucking in the practice match with Stewart being favoured as a forward. Luenberger was absent - possibly in the high altitude room. Joe and Tommy were running on the small oval both sporting bandages on their left knee. Tom had a long conversation with the doctor then went into the rooms. Joe looks,dispirited to me after being a dynamo in the early preseason. As far as I can make out he has had two operations - one hip and one knee. I don’t want to create a downer in what has been an excellent preseason and Joe is doing some short distance kicking so fingers crossed.
Karma Bomber points out that Woosha at West Coast had super fit teams that could run out games and based on what we are seeing here I think we are well on the way to achieving this goal as well as being a really fast team that moves the ball quicker than in the past. Woos ha stopped play today when someone kicked the ball sideways and pointed out strongly that he wanted forward movement.