There are some 6th+ that I can hardly believe are in their 6th year of footy... We have like two players left that we acquired prior to 2013 on our list (Heppell and Hurley), all of the other senior players were traded in more recently.
Courtesy of Nackers on Blitz: A few players have also been seen back training for a few weeks already, including Bryan who’s put on a bit more bulk, Francis and Stringer, who according to reports is in even better condition than last year, and has been doing a lot of extra work during the off season.
Weather was sunny, pleasantly warm with a light breeze. Arrived around 10:40am.
Reid and I think it was either Eyre or Bryan were in the hangar. Parish was doing repeat high speed laps on the other field. Jones was doing slow laps. That’s the only modified group that I noticed.
On field were
McGrath, Draper, Parish (laps), Langford, Caldwell, Francis, Snelling, Ridley, Perkins, Heppell, Jones (laps), Stringer, BZT, Ham, Guelfi, Brand, Baldwin, McBride, Durham, Waterman
I don’t think Hird was there. Definitely absent were Smith, Merrett, Sheil, Cutler, Cox, Lav, Stewart, Hurley, Hind, 2MP, Redman, Phillips, Walla.
Now the vibe… pretty damn loud.
The guys had clearly been putting in a lot of running while I was having a lazy morning. Still loud and putting in a lot of energy all the way to the end of the session.
Rance is huge. On field general / coach, like a super nimble Hooker. Loudest on the field by far. Tackled one of the players during a drill HARD. Seriously don’t underestimate what this guy’s influence is on our training standards.
Did hear him say to the team after a match sim drill “We are going to be an extremely dangerous side by hand.”
Francis was also really loud, putting in a heap of high speed running during the match sims. Was slowing down a tad in the final few laps, but nothing that I worried about considering his work rate all day. He’s really switched on. Great bit of play where Francis had the ball on the wing at 50, slowed down to draw the defender to him, then passed to a now open Baldwin who kicked a goal from the pocket. For all you that are writing Francis off, yeah… don’t be so hasty…
Baldwin. He’s exactly what you’d expect from a talented bloke who’s missed a lot of football. Physically a monster, he dwarfs BZT. Does a lot of stuff really well, but is a bit rusty on some stuff. For those that question our goal kicking coaching, he was working closely with Gia to nail a technical body mechanic thing that was causing him to miss snap shots really badly. 15 seconds of diagnosing the issue, called for Snelling to kick him another ball, nailed the next kick. Don’t expect him to dominate round 1, but I can’t think of a better attitude.
Speaking of attitude. On a compressed ground simulation, 8 attackers vs 6 defenders, time was running out and the attacking team were aggressively pushing towards goal. Gia took the ball on the wing and missed a shot for goal. Guelfi shouts out “PASS IT YOU SELFISH F*CKER!” Gold.
BZT is putting in the effort. He was leading the groups running laps. Not just by a bit, he was nearly catching the group in front. Huge change from a year ago where he was struggling off the back of the pack.
That batton has been passed to Brand, who is a long way behind on endurance. That being said, his skills during the drills were top notch. The guy was likely the most fatigued of all the players on the ground, but he was still nailing all his marks and kicks.
Waterman has slimmed down a fair bit. Still a unit, but I’d expect he’ll cover the ground a lot better. Kelly looks a unit. Well to be honest, pretty much all of the guys look in fantastic condition.
General vibe right now is a lot of running, with all the match sim stuff being designed for fast flowing ball movement and minimal physical contact. The guys are in cardio / ball skills mode. I assume contested work will ramp up into next year. I did notice a lot more repeat leads by the forwards, which is nice to see.
Cafe opens back up on 6th December, along with the rest of the facility.
For reference on Walla’s fitness I found these pictures while looking through the BB training thread. While he is obviously far from peak condition and not really looking AFL fit, I’d argue he still looks better than the average Joe and a hard 4 month training program can get him back to his best.
Ronald Fejo Jnr. This kid is not fit. He might be SANFL 2nds fit, but it’s obvious that he has a bit to do. But he can play. Off both feet, the kicking looks assured. Drilled a few goals. The mid-ball-drop-baulk and fake was silk. But what really caught the eye was a passage in the full ground “match play”. Someone emerged at speed from a contested ball. Ronald. An evade and handball to Zerrett. Zerrett scoots upfield with a bounce, looks inside for the handpass. Somehow, the receiver is Ronald. Who then plants an inside 50 pass onto someones chest. No idea who. It didn’t matter. This kid has some wheels, and got to where he had to be to be involved again.
For anyone who wants to start peeling the lid off in December, here is todays training report from Blitz.
Training Report Fri 10th Dec
I arrived at the Hangar at around 9am and the group perfectly come out as I walked up to the main ground. Overcast and windy conditions today…so just your standard Hangar training day. A few have mentioned Nackers and where is he…well considering he just moved house…I am sure he will be more consistent in the new year. I miss his Hawaiian shirts and binoculars…sorry you will have to deal with me for now
At the beginning the modified group was Cox, Hurley, Reid and Laverde. As the session went on after about 30 mins…Jones, Langford, Lord, Guelfi and Eyre also joined, probably 80% of those look absolutely fine and likely to start full training early Jan. I ask Jones if he will be allowed to join full training soon…he said " I f##$en well better be" with a cheeky smile. He is continuing to put on more muscle and looks great. Not sure why Caldwell has missed the last two sessions…here’s hoping its management loads. Stringer did last week.
The first half of the session was your run of the mill sprints, laps and handball drills. The Daveys and Matt Foley were part of this group. After that they went inside for a different program so I didn’t get to see much of them tbh. They came back later to practice some fun goal kicking from the boundary line at the end of practice…I sense they are a fun cheeky type of nature the Daveys.
The second half of training was 3/4 match simulation type drills. Really a coach kicks in to a half back and the team in red or yellow have to then try and score…defense has to stop them. Early on I thought Francis had a real presence up forward…still would like to see him take some marks he should hold…it’s a tease as he is moving so well. His contest work is really impressive this off season…must of crushed about three guys this pre season…two of them starting push n shoves. Gave McBride a nasty corky in the lower back today. Good to see Franga at least very aggressive in his mindset.
So I fully know you want to hear about about Tex and Fejo Jnr. I get it…here we go:
Tex Wanganeen: Tex today was by FAR the best I have ever seen him. He was doing everything at 100% and it actually took me back on how impressive some of his plays were. Had some great moments on weaving through traffic at good pace. He is one of those players that the kick is either 30% a total shank or 70% picture perfect. Being so young and missing a lot of footy…probably to be expected. Club would be really encouraged though on how he represented himself today…in attitude and delivery. Can’t help think he still may be asked to develop another year…but he was much closer than I expected and would not have an issue giving him a spot. Tex has a future.
Fejo Jnr: It’s always a good sign when senior players in match simulations are looking for you as they know the ball is in good hands. That’s what I saw today. Fejo Jnr simply never panics with ball in hand…and then spots up a good option with precision. He had a moment when he was 70m out…ran to keep the ball in play…came back from boundary line…did a great side step in traffic and hit a beautifully weighted pass inwards to Stringer 30m out directly in front. To be honest it’s what I would of expected if we drafted Wanganeen-Milera at pick 13. Recruiters know better than me obviously…but he must be super tempting. Would need to add a bit more fitness but it looks to me that would happen pretty quickly under his likely first professional type system over next 3 months.
So let me talk about Patrick Voss - ok… what am I missing? Voss finished 3rd in clubs 2nd time trial…out ran Hobbs today…marked well, laid a brutal tackle on Redman, kicks for goal well and had moments in midfield drill where he didn’t look out of place…oh and the kid is a 195cm and massive!! I was watching him close today…and I say this honestly…if I didn’t know the draft at all…I would say he was likely our pick 13 selection. Must be something I am missing but on the surface and me looking on maybe naively…it’s fun to watch. Voss will play senior footy in the next few years…no doubt in my mind. He was really impressive. This in no way talking down Hobbs by the way who was again very solid today…just that a late rookie selection pick for Voss just doesn’t seem possible to what your seeing in person. Will be interesting to see him in full match practice mode and understand his game further.
Peter Wright again was clunking huge marks today…he actually looks very good and seems to be developing further on using his body to advantage in contests.
Walla I will quickly just say looks much better from when I saw him 2 weeks back. Much more positive today on him for round 1 if he keeps this momentum going. Good to see him smiling and doing some funny little pranks. Better signs
Perkins got a ton of the ball today in semi-match sims. Has the ability to be in the right spots. His power burst of speed has improved significantly with his fitness vastly improved. Kicking was a touch off today but on a very windy day…was not overly concerned. How he is moving and getting the footy in good spots is the key. Working his butt off too just quietly.
I will be the first to say I think Baldwin actually plays some senior games at some point this year. I watched him also closely today and there is simply too much talent to ignore. Lets hope his body is kind to him. I am rapt he took Hooky’s number and it says a bit about the kid and the clubs thoughts on him.
So far McGrath’s field kicking has been spot on…hoping that’s a trend that continues. He looks in such good shape. Cutler today was actually probably in my top 5 also. He was quite dynamic coming off half back…not sure his good form at the end of last year was a one off.
I focused for 15-20 mins on McDonagh today…and again I am pretty confident he plays some senior footy at some point this year. Was interesting in match simulations that the players often went inboard to Garrett…almost like he was dedicated setup of a strategic play. He did one 40m bullet pass that was stupidly elite. His endurance is super impressive too. I thought today was the first time he was playing relaxed and showing what he can do in front of the group…reckon the group took notice too.
The players were in good voice again…was a LONG 3 hour session. I think the club and Truck would be happy with how things are going. Players I sense want to switch to full match practice mode…that comes in January. Can’t wait.