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Date Posted: 14:13 09/01/19 Wed
Author: Annabelle
Author Host/IP: 52.119.2.123.sta.dodo.net.au / 123.2.119.52
Subject: Training observations from the first session in 2019.

Cooler weather and showers had been promised but the sky was cerulean with that whitish, cottony cloud which presented no threat of interrupting the session.

It was scheduled to start at ten and when I arrived a large portion of the players were already kicking to each other at medium range. There was a good feeling among the group and one could hear them trading tales and anecdotes of their Christmas breaks. A few hugged their teammates and they continued their light warm-ups while awaiting the whistle which signalled the beginning of the formal session. Players again took the heart monitor thingie from the yellow bin as they entered the arena and it was pleasing to see how many of them have ripped abdomens.
As is customary, the players first ran a lap of the oval followed by prolonged stretching at the car-park end. They then proceeded to undertake more limbering up at the Melbourne Arena end before running to the opposite end and using the goal and point posts as pillars to use to aid quad stretches.
After being summoned to the middle of the ground, could hear the instructions and was excited to see that I’d be witnessing the time-trial. Interesting to note that many finished in exactly or around about the same position as the early December test. Phillips set the pace early and always maintained clear ground on any opposition. As they passed near where I was standing, one of the fitness staff called out the time to “Flipper” and encouraged him to bring it home strongly. Lynch was with Sidey early but eventually the latter forced himself into the silver medal position. The players were all asked to note their time and report it to one of the official before cooling down. Some of the players didn’t take part. What was interesting was Grundy again brought up the rear and he was never in any danger of not finishing last. I could hear his laboured breathing (his gasping was audible) and he clearly doesn’t relish this. The penultimate finisher was Mason who does really seem to push himself but didn’t look in terrible discomfort. Interestingly Brodes looked fine in some of the basic match-simulation and drills later and we all know he has elite stamina Shaz took part in this and finished in the middle of the field. Lynch ran impressively, exhibiting a good style and looking confident and relaxed. Have also thought that he has looked comfortable in the drills and match-simulation. Sier performed more strongly here than in the beep test, as did Tay, but Josh Thomas was fourth last by my reckoning with only the heaviest guys tailing him so maybe endurance could be a targeted area for him with competition for spots hotting up in his area of the ground. Guys like Callum and Daics also finished mid-field but Checkers looked quite comfortable for a bigger body. Noticed that Tyler Brown trailed Atu as they separated themselves as a clear duo in the middle of the group. Great to see IQ finishing in the top five.
It was good to see Treloar return to the fray. He looked particularly enthusiastic and was relishing his chance to rejoin full training as he wore citrus coloured boots and a beaming smile. Crisp was spotted in his training gear for the first time and he did some running on the sidelines. Also on lighter duties were JDG, Langdon, Reid, Goldie, Wells, Dunn, Greenwood, Shaz and Kelly. Neither Beams, nor Mayne made an appearance on the arena. Earlier Varcoe had runs some laps too but took part in main drills later in the session. Kelly and Wells did a lot of running up and down one section of the oval together, while Jordy and Langdon did some solo running. Tommy worked particularly hard not giving himself much breathing space between run-throughs and he appeared to be running at a fair click. Noticed that he had some light strapping on his left knee. Jordy went in a few times only to reappear and he was obviously working to some program orchestrated by the fitness crew.

Shaz seems to be advancing in increments in his preparation. He was on the track very early and running laps but interchanging the linear with the lateral. He is developing more confidence in his body and he is becoming more trustworthy regarding the lateral movements and is starting to twist and turn which he practised between cones. He appears relaxed and assured with his gait and his attitude smacks of a sanguine rather than bleak outlook.
Tay received some mild treatment after the time-trial but was back and running in no time.
WHE did not partake of the main activities though he certainly participated fully in major training just prior to the break. Elliott sans his favourite pale pink boots, did some running, including a lot of backward sprints with Shaz to test the flexibility of his movements. He did not look restricted at all. Perhaps his training load today was more precautionary than indicative of a injury.
After the time trial, understandably there was much stretching and a bit of a rest for all those who took part. They then were split into two groups and either end of the ground spanning the fifty metre line and were told to have inside running shots after receiving handballs. There was a warm embracing of this task as most of them fancy themselves for a goal. Noted for BH that young Daics and Callum were reasonable prominent here though still see the latter as a smallish guy who will probably fighting for a spot after closely observing his physique in relation to his likely competitors. The players were told to don their kicking boots in preparation for some football-related drills and match simulation.
Following this drill the players were divided into about six groups where the emphasis was on retrieving ground level balls and quickly feeding off handballs while evading tacklers.. I heard Tarks calling out for clean layoffs. One of the coaches used a largish rebounder implement shaped like a tennis racquet to throw the footballs in the turf. I was watching one group comprising mainly bigger guys and Cox did well at ground level for someone so tall, while Moore was complimented for being clean, very quick and avoiding the clutches of the would-be tacklers. There was a lot of encouraging voices reverberating around the oval during this drill which clearly has the objective of improving our ground-work.
After this the larger bodies partook of some contesting for marks work in the Melbourne Arena end goal square, while most of the others continued to work at honing their kicking and handball skills. It’s always interesting to watch the big men fly, testing their judgement, body positioning and the strength of their hands. Cox is always a willing competitor, while it is hard to see how Moore will be out-marked with any regularity in a contested situation given how is overhead strength is shaping up. Was impressed by the crispness of delivery among the group polishing their general footy skills.
Match simulation was next on the menu. The players involved in this divided into two groups one at either end with one team wearing canary yellow and the other suited out in the black training tops. Because this happened simultaneously, it was hard to absorb who was doing what but was impressed by the overall speed and skill level exhibited. It was largely bruise-free a la AFLX. After a relatively brief first session of this, the whistle sounded and players retreated to the middle to listen to some instructions. The groups changed ends and there was a bit of swapping of guernseys.

After the dual matches, players were again ushered to the middle to receive some instruction. They ran in two semi-circles and met on the wing. This time match simulation was to involve everyone who participated in the smaller group games. It was black versus canary-yellow. After each goal there would be a ruck contest in the middle and the game would resume. Again the skills were reasonable considering they’ve emerged from the Christmas-New Year hiatus. There were some smart goals kicked and the ball moved quite quickly. The black team was superior which was a pity because Stevo was in the yellow opposed to Moore (black) in the goal square at one end but the ball never seemed to go down there. Was curious to see how this match-up would have played out. Think the coaches didn’t want match simulation to go too long given that it was the first hitout after a break and those who participated in the match practice had also completed a time trial in addition to other drills.
It was great to see Bucks back looking happy and relaxed and largely delegating the drills and directions to his subalterns.
Am trying to trust my memory of the session with this as have been loath to take notes ever since the MM episode. I took pics though which are always good to look back.
After the players sought the sanctuary of the change-rooms following the last match simulation, Mason Cox could be seen practising his kicking skills with a few of the coaches. Nobody can ever question the big man’s commitment.

Players fly to Gold Coast on Sunday for what will be an intensive week long training block away from prying eyes.

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