Training in cool, overcast conditions.
This was a tune up session for Saturday and I decided to focus on three players:
I’m happy to report that the signs are encouraging. Anthony joined in all the drills and was able to follow the play at reasonable, but not top pace, although I did see one burst of his old speed. He didn’t get many touches, but small steps I guess.
He did lots of goal kicking practice today - especially from acute angles in the pocket and he hasn’t lost any of his skill in this area.
Perhaps the thing that cheered me the most was when he engaged in some banter with a know-it-all peanut leaning on the fence. When he missed a shot this individual suggested he should have kicked it with his left foot. “Left foot eh?” said Walla, with a big grin. I took this as a sign that he is feeling somewhat more comfortable mentally which is the most important aspect of his recovery.
I get the impression that he is fit enough to be named tonight, provided that he doesn’t pull up sore.
His knee is taped, but he appeared to be unhampered and completed all the match simulation highlighted by a fine, juggling overhead mark. His preseason has been impressive and aggressive and his role in the forward line will be very interesting.
He was practising shots from the boundary line in the manner that Walla likes to set himself difficult scenarios. At first he mainly missed using a combination of drop punts, bananas and using the outside of his foot and gradually warmed to his task becoming more and more accurate.
The highlight which sums it up for me, perhaps not witnessed by other players or spectators, was when he played keepings-up with the ball, like soccer players do, flicking the ball up with his instep or knees. Suddenly, after half a dozen of these controlled flicks he volleyed the ball out of mid air (shades of Draper’s kick against St Kilda) for a goal, from this most acute angle.
There’s definitely something special here IF it can be harnessed.
n.b. Snelling did not train today apart from a few handballs with Hurley. Injured, ill, rested??? I don’t know but he didn’t do much on Tuesday either.
So ends the 150th pre-season - full of hope but once again frustrated by injuries. The more it changes the more it stays the same.