Training in cool, breezy conditions at Tullamarine.
Another afternoon session to vary things around a little. It was a pleasure to meet Dell today and Karma Bomber was here with his camera so expect some of his excellent pictures later.
Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon was meeting Michael Long casting an experienced eye over Jake. I got the impression he is pleased with his progress and thinks he will do well with another pre season under his belt. He is more assertive than earlier in his career and begining to develop that inner confidence that will allow him to take the game on. When he played towards the end of last season there were moments of electrifying tension amongst the crowd and my thoughts went back to a day at Colonial Stadium when his father had the ball on the wing, facing an opponent, and a supporter near me called out “Dance for me Longy” and he did exactly that, dancing around his opponent and slotting a pass.
There was no match play today and less ball movement as the main concentration was on close in handball and clearance work. Heppell won a heap of contests today and was outstanding. McGrath is starting to do a few good things as he looks towards a possible spot on the half back flank which is a pretty crowded place this year.
Meanwhile Jamar was taking Luey through some ruck combinations involving leaping for the tap on the heavy bag, then picking the ball up and hand balling to Draper, before tackling a trainer holding the small bag. You may agree with me that one of McKernan’s assets as a ruckman was his second and third efforts even when not winning the hit out and it is pleasing to see that our current ruck coaching is thinking beyond the tap to combinations of action. Hopefully Draper in his role as spectator is picking up some useful pointers.
Training was not quit as physical today without match play but Karma Bomber noted some testiness between Laverde, Francis and Langford resulting in some pushing and shoving. Competition for spots hotting up?
Highlight of the afternoon was a drill in a confined area where a player with the ball would be tackled to prevent him getting past the tackler and over a line whereas if the tackler could take him to ground or sumo like push him out of the area he would prevail. There were some heavy clashes and chest to chest wrestling as strength was pitted against strength. McKenna and his opponent wrestled toe to toe for ages, egged on by their teammates until, Dylan “the animal” Clarke simply lifted McKenna up in a bear hug and carried him bodily over the line.
A standard training session in many ways but another effective step on the road to glory - or one less shopping day to Christmas if you are not as excited as me.