Went for my annual visit to training this year. Last year I went before Christmas (before we realised the ban would be extended for our 10 players). So it was good to see everyone again and from my point of view it was good to be able compare with last year.
It’s hard to see what is happening everywhere on the ground and I don’t watch enough training to be really familiar with all the players. I mostly watched the drills happening at the goal end just outside the café end of the hanger.
Modified group: Hooker, Hartley … running laps on the small oval.
Our A Graders Heppell, Merret and Watson were all fantastic today so I won’t say too much more about them. Other thoughts:
- In one of the early drills a group of players would move the ball forward from positions from the midfield into the forward line. The players were then paired in teams where they would try to lock the ball in or if they were on the other team try to clear the ball back up the group. Myers stood out in this drill. His kicking is precision and he doesn’t panic. Morgan surprised in this drill. He moved well and his kicking is good. Brown was also strong and Baguley is a super strong trainer. I can’t see anyone squeezing him out of our first 22.
- Francis trained hard but he is well off the pace in training. We all know what he can do but he’s still very young and had grown a lot so I think it will be later in the season before we see him in the seniors
- Laverde injured himself again. Yikes (Quad, Hammy, Calf). We were all sorry to see him head back to hanger. With Hartley still in the modified group this might open the door for Stewart or Brown but possibly also Begley (See next)
- Fridge is in great shape. He moves well and doesn’t look out of place with any of the senior players. He didn’t standout in anything that I saw but I think he will be strong chance for senior games this year. In simulation drills he almost treats the opposition players with distain .. and just has an element of X-Factor about him.
- Langford: From what I saw he’s well and truly pegged as a big midfielder. He has great skills but speed doesn’t look great now that he has bulked up. For me he would be in competition with Myers for a spot and if that’s the case I’m starting Myers. That said I think Langers is well liked by the coaches and will get lots of time. Whilst he might have a few big games this year I reckon that it will be in next season when he matures and gets more core strength to go with his big frame .. then he will do some serious damage.
- McGrath: Definitely training with the defenders and looks pretty good without standing out. In the final drills he was being used across half back as the final link player to run/clear the ball out of defense, That will be a prefect role for him and will expose him to the midfield progressively. I have a feeling they would prefer him developing in the seniors and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him picked over someone like McKenna.
- Matty Dea. I just like this guy. A hard trainer and doesn’t try to do too much.
- McKenna: Still not sold on his position in best 22. Good kick but decision making can be funny.
- Ridley. Surprise packet for this year. Don’t know how but I have a feeling he’s going to demand senior games this year.
- J Merret featuring heavily in defense. He looked good but can’t see who he would replace in the group.
- McNiece, After a drill he kicked a massive torp from around 65 which cleared both the nests for both ovals and landed on Etihad somewhere. Would’ve been an 80m kick. All the supporters watching on looked at each in unison wondering who was that guy. I had to come home and check who number 41 was.
- Dylan Clarke is big for a young kid. Kicking practice with one of the trainers after the main session. His kicking looks good but if I was a biomechanics specialist I would say there is a part of his ball drop that looks slow and leaves room for error.
- Hooker is wishing he was back in the main group. He kept staring back at team training from the Etihad oval.
- Long has cool hair
I ended up talking to another guy whilst our kids were playing and it was interested to talk with a fellow supporter about the challenges for working out the best 22 which mirrored a lot of the discussion on the threads here. Here’s what we discussed:
- The returning 10 make a huge difference. They have all reassumed leadership positions and there would have to be a really good reason to not play them. Watson and Hepps absolutely standout in both their leadership presence and their onfield smarts. In the simulation drills Heppel never makes the wrong decision. In saying we both agreed that we can’t go back to the days of playing Myers, Watson, Heppell, Goddard, Stanton, Howlett and Hocking. No matter how much they all deserve a game as a combination they are way too slow. Watson and Hepps are a lock and from what I saw at practice Myers is a lock.
- Can we play Tippa, Green and Fanta is the same forward line ? Seems Like Colyer will be on the wing but each of these guys looks to be training in the forward group ? We talked for a while but couldn’t agree to a final position unless Fanta is player as a winger which is also possible.
- Zaharakis could be in for a big year. Watson, Hepp and little Merret will get tagged but Zaka and Parish might find a lot more space this year. Coyler will kill it in this side.
- Where does Stants play in this team ?
All in all the session had a lot of energy and a lot talk from all the players. I can’t see how we will finish outside the 8 with this team.