Training in mild, windy conditions at Tullamarine.
The situation with the rehab group - Bellchambers, McKernan, Daniher and Watson is pretty much unchanged. They were joined today by Morgan who ran laps. Joe and Jobe basically train together so I imagine Joe is getting some pretty good mentoring. Hopefully they will join full training after the Christmas break.
I feel a bit sorry for Sam Draper at the moment, he looks like one of those exotic animals who has been kept in a dispiriting caged environment. With his background they are obviously working on his skill development. He did a dozen or so kicks today with a fairly good kicking action, guiding the ball onto his boot and two good set shots for goal allowing the ball to curve nicely in the wind but was foxing his own balls and looked a bit dejected. Later he did some one on one short passing with a trainer marking to his side with one hand and later handball with alternate hands. I would like to see the players get around him a bit more and give him some encouragement as he seems a bit of a lost loner at present on the track.
About a dozen players did two laps of the perimeter track. Dylan Clarke led for much of the time but an amazingly fit Begley sprinted to pass him and lead the pack in with a valiant red headed player trailing the pack in. I thought that following Dodoro’s remark that Clarke was an animal this might be his nickname but I noticed that the call today from the players was “Dill” which is hardly flattering. If he has done year twelve he might post his score on social media to correct this moniker. I intend to call him Dylan.
The talk is fairly consistent that this has been a tough pre-season and I agree. Some of the work today in the confined handball exercises was very physical with Ambrose shirt fronting Zac Merret. Merret got up, checked his lip for blood, shook his head and got straight back into it. You have to love this player he’s a warrior.
McKenna is receiving some very specialised fitness training. I don’t know if he is a bit behind because he missed some training when he was in Ireland but today he was put through a particularly exhausting drill. A trainer stood in the middle of the ground and asked him to run flat out for about fifty metres towards the goal then turn and “power when you turn” to run back towards the trainer to mark a pass. I saw him mark once and miss once, probably due to fatigue. Obviously this type of exercise is designed to build up his repeat running so that he don’t lose his opponent in a match situation through fatigue.
Most interesting section of training today was the match practice with multiple coaches on the ground and communicating from the balcony. Play was stopped every minute or so to discuss positioning and where players should be running. This is complex coaching at the highest level as the coaches strive to teach the gameplan in every conceivable situation and stoppage. The players were very involved in this exercise with lots of loud talking and pointing to indicate where their comrades should be positioned.
I spent some time watching McGrath who was defending on Fantasia for part of the match practice. In the training so far there is nothing to standout to make you think he is sensational and will play in round one. On the other hand it is good that he seems to be fitting in as a “cog” in the side doing his job effectively and without fuss. We will watch his NAB Cup performance with interest. Ridley kicked a nice long goal today but I would say that overall the new recruit that is standing out the most is Begley.
While on the subject of the new recruits I ran into a very chipper Adrian Dodoro in the car park and asked him about the newbies. The answer was that he was “confident that they will be alright.” I thought his answer was measured - “they’re good kids and they’ll do the work which is half the battle.” From what I’ve seen at training this is the case, with Begley who has lost more than five kilos being a good example. I think we can place a great deal of confidence in our recruiters.
The atmosphere is good and the integration between players, coaches and recruiters shows a pleasing level of professionalism.