Training today in cool conditions with a slight breeze (by Tulla standards). It was nice to meet @dontildeath who joined us for a chat outside the fence.
The session today went for around 2 hours which seems to be normal. It was the first of the two allocated full group contact sessions for the week, and as such with the limited number of sessions before the first game I was a bit disappointed by the number of players that either didn’t train or complete the full session. There is no doubt some player management is occurring but I would have liked to see more players taking part.
To summarise them:
- Daniher trained for his longest session out on the ground since his return. He was out for around an hour mainly doing running and kicking before going back inside the hanger to do some bike work.
- Fantasia walked around the boundary as well as doing some light running. It must be quite a minor injury for him to be running so soon and I wouldn’t expect him to be out for too long. For some reason when he walked the boundary later he was wearing a mask.
- Hurley was on the sidelines and didn’t train
- Mutch completed 1/2 to 3/4 of the session
- Heppell completed about the first half of the session
- Mo22ie was out running on the rehab oval for around 30 minutes before going into the rooms.
- Jones was also on the rehab oval doing running and some footwork drills before going into the hanger on the bikes
- Bryan was on the sidelines but didn’t train
- Gown joined in with full training for the first time since his injury, staying for around 45 minutes before going to the rehab oval.
- Johnson was in the hanger but didn’t train outside
- Draper again alternated between the main group and the rehab, only really going to rehab when there was match simulation.
- McQuillan and McBride are still in isolation
- Snelling wasn’t sighted for the whole session
- McKenna trained for around 3/4 of the session before going off early
- Unfortunately Tom Hird was on the sidelines on crutches with a moonboot on his left leg.
The tempo of training today was definitely up another notch compared with previous sessions particularly with the intensity of the tackling.
There wasn’t much actual match practice which was also a bit of a surprise but what they did do of it was compressed into half to 3/4 of the ground. Again a lot of the emphasis seemed to be moving the ball forward by hand as much as possible. I tried to pick up where Hooker was and he seemed to alternate between defense and attack possibly similar to what he will be doing when the season restarts. Overall it was fairly scrappy for a lot of the time with a lot of pressure being put on the ball carrier, but on a number of occasions when a player did find space they were able to hit a target.
Townsend was one player that stood out for me with his ability to take a contested mark in a one on one situation easily outpointing Merrett and Francis on different occasions.
Smith provided a lot of pressure as per normal but was also sloppy with his disposal on a few occasions.
Of the drills there was a lot of time spent moving the ball forward by hand. McGrath and in particular Shiel were outstanding at this. Shiel had the ability more than anyone else to both take the handball option when appropriate but also burn off defenders with pace to open the area in front of him. Coming off career best figures in round one our new game style may suit him perfectly and finally propel him to one of the game’s elite.
There was also a lot of work into clearances with the four ruckman tapping down to the mids. Each of Belly, Phillips, Draper and Crauford had good moments. Crauford in particular is coming along well although he struggled a little today in some ground ball drills but certainly competes well.
The other area that was worked on was contested marking with the players not in the midfield drills. I didn’t see anyone really dominate here with most contests shared.
The other player I again wanted to mention was Ridley. It’s incredible to see the way he is attacking the ball and moving with confidence compared to how he was late last year when he could barely get a kick in the seconds. It’s amazing what a bit of self belief can do.