Training today in coolish overcast conditions with again very little breeze. It again started around 9am and finished just after midday, so a good solid session
The modified group group today was only Ambrose, Zerk, McBride, and they all did running and kicking at quite a good pace so I would think it’s not long until they are integrated back into the main group.
Zakka, Reid, Hurley, Mossie and Clarke didn’t train.
The good news was that Ridley, Stringer, Perkins, and Johnson all completed the first hour or so with the main group doing all the drills before going onto the second oval and doing more work between themselves.
Laverde and Heppell completed very nearly the whole session with the main group. Baker, Waterman, Dunkley and Byrnes again trained, but none of the academy players.
For this time of the year the group is in the healthiest state I can remember for a number of years, with only really Mossie and Clarke looking to be unavailable for round one at this stage, and possible Zakka who seems to be recovering slowly.
Of the guys trying out Waterman I thought looked very good. He attacked the ball very hard, has the body to be able to hold his position and also took some nice stong marks and disposed of it neatly. I imagine with his body size his tank may be an issue, but that’s just a guess and I don’t have anything to back that up. I think Dunkley also shows a bit of promise, he looks a good all round solid player.
A lot of the drills taking place at the moment seem to be related to ball movement. With most sessions they spend a bit of time in smaller groups working on delivering the ball into the forward line starting from the around a wing / half forward position with forwards competing against backmen for the incoming ball.
Another common drill is moving the ball forward mainly by hand but all sometimes with short passes, but an emphasis on always moving forward and continuously playing on.
There was also a lot a match sim again today, with it generally being 17 v 17 so it was a fairly good workout. Again there was no ruck contests to start the play either a centre bounce, ball ups or boundary throw in, with the play generally starting from either half back or full back.
Overall I thought the speed of play was a lot faster today, with less time taken for decision making, and if the was a switch it tended to be longer faster kicks, This did change a bit towards the end of match sim, which could possible have been a direction.
Clearance work tends to be focused on in separate drills when the players are divided into groups of midfielders and forwards/backs.
In the clearance work Cox was included as a midfielder where I spent a bit of time watching him, and he certainly doesn’t look anything like a lumbering tall. He had no problem with the contested work where he was clean off the ground with quick hands and was very agile. On a few occasions I was very impressed with his ability to dodge and weave in traffic and pass the ball off to a teammate even under strong pressure. He certainly is a very unique player, he looks very comfortable in the midfield, I can’t really recall a player of his size having a similar skill set.
It was good to see Laverde back again, he played all of the session exclusively as a defender and I thought was quite solid, taking a couple of good solid marks and showing strength running from the backline on occasions. His kicking also looked a bit more assured.
Heppell also played largely back and to me looks right at home there. They again practiced the drill where two players were matched up on each other with the forward trying to get past the backman to mark a short pass from another player. Heppell I think does this better than anyone else, regularly being able to keep front position and take the mark himself which hardly anybody else has been able to do regularly as a defender in this drill.
A few other highlights from the session:
It was great to see 2MP take a big pack mark near the goalsquare, he looks great when they come off which we hope to see a lot more of. BSD also took another huge park mark near goal and duly converted. From what we’ve seen this pre season he’s going to create some big problems for the opposition drifting forward. Eyre also took a really nice grab coming over the back of a pack. Langford as well took a fantastic mark over the back of Gleeson which he had no right to take, as Gleeson was in perfect position, but he leapt over the back of him and took it as clean as a whistle.
I’ve really liked the work of Francis in marking contests during the whole pre season and again today he looked very solid. He is keeping contact with his direct opponent more than he has in the past, then using subtle nudges and bumps to work his opponent out of position to take easy marks. As a result his positioning on most occasions looks a lot better.
It was great to see Ridley back with the main group again, and I can certainly see him carrying on from where he left off last year. He has built up quite a bit in body size from last year and looks even stronger in a contest. He also just reads the ball so beautifully in the air.
Tom Cutler also stood out today as he was getting a lot of the ball. Some of his disposal though wasn’t great.
Shiel was also a bit the same way, and in contrast to previous years his longer kicks looked good but some of his shorter passes were missing the mark.
Nick Bryan also really stood out today with several big strong marks around the ground. He’s another one who is a great athlete as well, but strangely enough his disposal seems quite a bit poorer than last year. He may be working on some technical issues, I’m not sure, but he had several poor kicks which isn’t the first time I’ve noticed.
Ham is another one that is improving as the pre season goes on, again with some good turnovers, strong marks, hard running and nice kicks It will be interesting to see who we opt for on the wings.
Overall it was a good solid session. They started to look good in the early part of match sim with a lot faster more aggressive ball movement before reverting back into slower movement towards the end. Hopefully they will do some analysis of the session and encourage more of the fast movement as they looked very good on the occasions it happened.