Training in cool, overcast, windy conditions at Tullamarine.
Leuenberger, Goddard and Dempsey.
It is somewhat difficult to describe the atmosphere at training at present. On one level it is ticking over nicely with Worsfold quietly overseeing and instructing and the assistant coaches running their drills smoothly, while Mark Neeld the Director of Coaching, stations himself on the first floor verandah with his computer and two way radio keeping in constant communication with the coaches.
On another level training is much quieter than previous years partly due to it being a smaller group and partly because the experienced players are missing to urge the session on and make it more competitive. This was compounded by Goddard’s absence today leaving Baguley as the leader on the field who tends to lead by example rather than being vocal.
Interestingly if you talk to other training watchers there is quite an air of optimism as they attempt to rationalise our predicament by looking for all the positives e.g. we have lost our slow midfield, it’s a chance for many of the younger players to step up and give us a real development year, we will get early draft picks etc. etc…
A number of the top up players were on the track today - Simpkin, Crowley, Kelly, and Matt Dea from Richmond. They all showed something and I thought the standout was Kelly who took numerous marks down back and constantly directed play out of the backline. Pencil him in for round one.
Coney did much more training today before running laps towards the end and looks to be well on the road to recovery which is pleasing. He is not the favourite player of many blitzes but his experience and goal kicking could be very useful if he can get fully fit.
A lot of talk has centred on protecting the young players in the midfield and it was interesting that two of them - Francis and LaVerde were causing some physical mayhem of their own while Crowley is no slouch in tight situations.
Eades provided some good drive in the forward line until he screwed up a set shot from thirty metres. Still he looks very quick and will probably score quite a few goals on the run. Brown and Joe both marked well on the forward line. Brown is a bit behind in endurance but looks to be very cool and level headed and his big body will provide opportunities for others and should enable Joe to play further up the ground where it is harder for defenders to double team him.
What needs to be worked on? Well like Kevin Rudd I will ask and answer my own question.We started today with a drill where a forward and a defender started side by side. The object was for the forward to push off and create space calling to a kicker 30 metres away “front, middle, inside or boundary” according to where he wanted to lead. This is good but in the match play this happened less frequently than it should and there were many high bombs into the forward line. Hopefully this disconnect between the drill and the match play will lessen with practice.
Overall a good session and another step on the way to improvement in these dark and difficult times.