There were a few onlookers at training today, so I half expected this thread would already exist. Clearly, it doesn’t. So I’ll pencil a few thoughts.
This is the first session I’ve seen. Since 2019 actually. So I have nothing whatsoever to draw comparisons against.
I arrived around 9.45 . They’d clearly been training for a while prior to that. I wondered if it had been a heavy running session earlier in the morning. We’ll get to that.
Training was a bit stilted, fitful, technical. So I probably spent more time yacking to Karmabomber than closely tuning in to the specifics.
Let’s cut straight to the crux of the totality of training . Was I impressed? No. Am I worried? No. Like most on here, I’ve followed the training threads and have noted varying opinions on how we’re looking. Based purely on today, I now understand why. However, I probably differ somewhat in that I think no one could have an opinion one way or the other. What was clearly happening was a heavy teaching session, lots of focus on group positioning and technical setups. Even notional match simulation wasn’t really match sim. Players would deliberately opt not to mark, instead tapping the ball down. In some drills the intent was to tackle, in others clearly not.
In one of the versions of the main , basically full squad “match sim” ,there DID seem to be a focus on transitioning from defence. Or stopping the transition from defence. Red team started with the ball in the back hotspot. Yellow vest team seemed ok with conceding the sideways pass into the pocket, and then clamping down on the next kick. Several times they chopped off the attack on the wing. The ball returned to Reds defensive 50. This happened a few times. And then Red found a way through with quick movement and stormed into goal. Drill ended, group meeting , go and do something else.
There was a brief period of something as close to a praccie match as we saw, complete with stoppages and full ground use. But even this felt constrained and certainly not the full deal. If I could detect a thread - and this was in the smaller drills as well -, it was to play on and go quickly. Those that held it up at all were told to get moving.
We had various groups practicing distinct setups. A five forward / two “defenders” (Wright/Perkins were amongst the forwards) drill seems designed to emphasize running patterns and opening up the ground. Lots of coaching instructions , often to the players off the ball or not the target.
Belly took Phillips and Bryan to a wing for some ruck craft. It was more about talking and demonstrating body positioning than actual physical contact.
Running loads were a high priority for the fitness department. Zerk copped a gruelling session, endless half laps on the stop watch, a few seconds break, then back again. Like a beep test conducted over repeat 200 meters . He doesn’t look heavy physically , but looked heavy of gait. He was joined in this seemingly unending pursuit for a while by Reid. Where Zerk was laboring through the turf, Reid lithely glided across it. Impressive. You had the impression that he could have left Zerk in his wake at a moment’s notice, and could have run them all day.
In a pretty stop/start session (from an observers perspective, no doubt something was always happening for the players) it was difficult to pluck individual details out.
But the clear stand out was Langford. In the stoppages, he had it on a string. And then he’d appear out of nowhere as the releasing player for Redman to use deep in defence. Covered the ground , silk and power.
Ham made some eye catching dashes. Excellent breakaway acceleration through congestion.
Perkins looked gassed when I arrived. Maybe that’s just how he is, hands on shorts and slightly hunched over. Or maybe they’d already done a lot of work. I suspect the structured positioning that was being preached is a bit of a shock to all the new kids, doubly so that they didn’t play at all last year. It may take him some time to fit into whatever the forward structure requirements are. On the positive side, he moves well , excellent kick and exploded onto a loose ball for a goal during one of the sims.
Caldwell looks a player. Very very adept off both feet. Not a huge physique but composed and classy.
2MP didn’t always present to the ball as I’d have liked. The problem, of course, is that I’ve not the faintest idea if that was under instruction as part of the training or not.
As far as I could tell, Cox didn’t train. McBride had some goal kicking and running drills on his own.
Hooksy looks fit. So does Laverde, who seemed to play back in most drills. He then finished with the running that Zerk had been tortured with.
I saw occasional signs of some of last year’s problems emerge - the handpass to flat footed team mates who may not even be facing goal drives me nuts. The game opens if you get to a player on the move. Vital seconds are lost if not.
The bottom line , for me, is that the entire session felt deliberately disjointed. Which makes deciphering “how we are looking” more or less impossible to those of us watching from without the wire fence. Obviously, over coming weeks, all the separate parts will have to be brought together. How seamlessly that happens, or not, will be when we can start to profer meaningful opinions. I’m certainly not in a position to be either upbeat, nor downcast. But based on today, there’s no shortage of minutiae coaching.