Training Preseason Training Thread - 2024

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Okay, so with our first competitive hitout against proper opposition getting underway this Saturday against Fremantle, I thought it would be a good idea to review how each player's preseason has gone thus far.

Having watched a lot of training sessions over summer, this is how I've seen things player by player:

(Disclaimer: this is a VERY long post and one I've been typing up across a few days now. Nobody should read it all (unless you're really interested of course) but feel free to skip to any players you're interested in to see how they've gone.

I've put it in spoiler chunks so it doesn't take up your whole page if you're not interested. Also note that this is just one nuffy's point of view - though I've tried to be fairly objective in my write-ups.

Does any of this mean much when the real stuff starts? Debatable. But I've watched training a lot over summer so figured I may as well collate what I've seen into one post).



1. Liam Ryan - Returned to training in November before senior players were required back and after two hamstring surgeries last year, he began by working away from the main group. Looked in reasonable physical shape, though after such a long time without properly running his fitness base definitely needed work. Nevertheless as December wore on he did more and more with the main group and by the time players returned in January he was nearly back in full training. Didn't last very long though before injuring his other hamstring tendon at training on Jan 15 and undergoing surgery. Was reported that he'd miss 10-12 weeks and it seems he's well on track with that timeline. Started running again in early Feb and is currently still building his running loads - appears on track to return in the first month of the season. Does a lot of his rehab work with our indigenous liason officer Chance Bateman.

2. Jake Waterman - One of the more impressive preseasons among the squad. A lot of uncertainty around the physical condition he'd come back in after being ravaged by ulcerative colitis last year, but he surprised everyone by not only returning (before he was required) in full training but winning the senior players' MAS running test in November. Had a great period pre-Christmas and hasn't had any setbacks throughout the summer. His work rate is a real highlight during match play, though appears to be battling it out with Ryan Maric at the moment for the final tall forward spot in the Round 1 team.

3. Andrew Gaff - An uninterrupted summer for Gaffy and came second to Waterman in the MAS running test - an impressive result which we've come to expect from him. Returned to training in November earlier than required. Football-wise he's been lining up exclusively on the wing and his performances during match play have been mixed - busy some days, quiet on others. Caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago when left out of the 'A' team during match sim, though since then he's often been included in the probables team. Simmo says the wing spot is up for grabs so it's unclear whether he'll start Round 1 - my guess is that we'll give him first crack at the wing spot, but it depends a bit on the form of Chesser over the next few weeks.

4. Dom Sheed - Was in full training up to Dec 5 when he pulled up with a hotspot in his foot and was placed in a moon boot. To me it seems we're taking a more conservative approach this time around with him, because he didn't do any real training of note until early Feb when he started running and work on the grandstand stairs. At this stage he's still building back his straight-line running and looks a fair way off re-joining the main group.

5. Jayden Hunt - A very good summer from this guy. Eased back into a full training load in November after returning a week earlier than required and hasn't had any injury interruptions so far. During match sim and other drills there seems to be a real emphasis to get the ball into his hands - and his run and carry has been elite so far.

6. Elliot Yeo - Visited Qatar in the off-season to try get on top of his soft tissue issues, and whether it's as a result of his trip or not, he seems to be on a slightly different program to everyone this preseason. Often warms up with a trainer separate from the main group, occasionally sit out drills to do separate running or work on the grandstand stairs. When he is out there he's been playing exclusively midfield and looks very good - powerful, strong, dynamic. Other than a minor ankle tweak in November (which generated a lot of media panic) he hasn't been troubled by injuries so far. Fingers crossed that unlike last year, this continues when the real stuff starts.

7. Reuben Ginbey - An incredible athlete with the work ethic to match. Put on significant size over the break and has maintained - if not improved - his strong aerobic capacity in the meantime. Took out the MAS running test the 1st-4th year players did, and from what I've heard would've beat Waterman and all the senior players if he had taken part in their test. His top speed is also among the best at the club - he covers the ground extremely well. Was flying until mid-December when his training loads got wound right back - I'm assuming this was due to the groin soreness that was later reported on in January. After the Christmas break he began building again, and through Jan and early Feb he began integrating back into full training and match sim. At the moment he seems to be flying again. Football-wise I would probably temper expectations on Ginbey in his second season, still seems to be figuring out how to best use his athletic prowess on the football field. Work rate, tackling and two-way running have been his strengths from my POV. He is regularly one of the last to leave the track when the players finish training.

8. Elijah Hewett - We learned recently of his battles with chronic sesamoiditis in his feet, but for most of the summer we weren't really sure what was going on with him, other than the fact it was foot-related. Did little bits of training here and there pre-Christmas but nothing really substantial, and was rarely sighted on the track in January. Flew over to Melbourne a few weeks ago to visit Dr Sue Mayes at the Australian Ballet to try and fix his feet issues. Since returning he's been gradually increasing his training load, and at the moment continues to build his straight-line running. No clear return date yet but looks to be progressing well.

9. Harley Reid - The media hype around him over summer has been unlike anything we've ever seen with a draftee, but his work on the track has been pretty impressive. Like all draftees he was eased into an AFL program pre-Christmas and since then has mostly been in full training - aside from a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago where the club managed him out of full training and match sim. Splits his time between the backline and the midfield, and aside from his freakish strength and ability, his aggression at the contest and burst speed have been traits which I've been pleasantly surprised with. Already looks comfortable playing alongside seasoned bodies and loves taking the game on - it doesn't work every time but he has great intent.

10. Tyler Brockman - Took some time to adjust to his new club, but after a few weeks he really started bringing his quality to the track and at the moment is looking great - I'm really bullish as to what he can do this season and in the years to come. Occasionally for whatever reason will runs laps instead of doing full training but on the whole an injury-free preseason. His skill level and pace was apparent pretty early on, but something that's really impressed me recently is his agility and evasiveness through traffic. Splitting his time between the forward line and the midfield at the moment and looks a likely Round 1 starter.


11. Tim Kelly - A fairly standard summer for Kelly - he's done what he needs to and is moving well. Returned to training earlier than required, looked in good shape and was in full training until a minor hamstring strain on Jan 17. Over the next 3-4 weeks he gradually began integrating back in with the main group and match sim, and by now he's back in full training again.

12. Oscar Allen - Looking good. Returned to training in November earlier than required and after a couple of weeks wearing a yellow non-contact hat at training, he was back to full fitness (believe he had a couple of off-season surgeries) and hasn't had any injury setbacks so far. Looks to be thriving in his new role of co-captain - is regularly our leading goalscorer at the end of match sim and kicked 6 in a match sim a couple weeks ago.

13. Noah Long - Has overall had a good summer. Injury-free and looks in good physical nick - probably a bit more developed than he was 12 months ago. Has been training predominantly up forward and is often a busy contributor during match sim. Footy smarts and movement through traffic is impressive.

14. Liam Duggan - Not a heap to note from Duggo's preseason. Came back to training early and in very good shape - finished top 5 in the MAS running test. Has been training mostly in the midfield over the preseason, though spent a fair bit of time in defence during the intraclub.

15. Jamie Cripps - Looking fit and in really good touch - has completed a full preseason to date. His work rate in the forward line is noticeable at training and impressive. Kicked 3 goals in the intraclub on Saturday and often finds himself in open space as a result of his hard running.

16. Luke Edwards - Some encouraging signs from Luke. Outside of a minor hip issue which limited him for about a week in late Jan/early Feb, he's gotten through a full preseason. Has been playing a mix between wing and inside mid and showed some good signs a few weeks ago at stoppages with his evasiveness and ball use. Looks a bit broader through the shoulders than he did last year too. Was in the 'A' team in the intraclub on Feb 17 so he might actually be closer to a Round 1 start than many think - worth noting coaches have generally had a lot of patience for him in the last couple of years.

18. Campbell Chesser - Has been eased through a lot of this preseason as he deals with lingering ankle soreness but physically he returned in very good shape - came runner-up to Ginbey in the 1st-4th year players' MAS running test. Will often have lighter training days where he'll work on skills and touch instead of participating with the main group, but generally hasn't missed the higher-intensity match sim sessions or the intraclub - points to load management rather than any setback. Has been playing both wing and inside mid and has built nicely over recent weeks, showing some good glimpses at stoppages during the intraclub. Generally has been starting on the 'B' team during competitive work but continued growth over the coming weeks could see that change.

19. Brady Hough - Looks to have again put on size over the off-season - he's still pretty slightly built but it doesn't stand out as much anymore. Returned to training in November by spending most of his time away from the main group, but quickly built back into things and by January was in full flight again. Has been training mostly with the backs and now at 192cm, has been playing on taller players (Waterman, Maric) at training as well as the smaller guys. Liking his competitiveness, composure and pace over this preseason. Looks a lock for the Round 1 team if fit.

20. Jeremy McGovern - Doing what he needs to do as a senior player. Is the oldest player on our list now and naturally gets managed through some drills and training sessions, though he looks in good shape. Been really keen to move the ball fast during competitive work, was very impressive in the match sim on Feb 8. Got through preseason unscathed until pulling up from the intraclub on Feb 17 with groin soreness - though early indications are that this is very minor and I wouldn't expect it to limit him for very long.


21. Jack Petruccelle - It's been a strong summer for Petch who looks ready to take another step this year. Was managed a bit through December but since returning from the Christmas break he's been in full training. Looks stronger, skilful, is running to the right places and generally looks a smarter footballer than years gone by. Has primarily been training with the forwards but does sometimes move up the ground and through the midfield during competitive work, and has produced some good line-breaking plays on a few occasions. Looks a likely Round 1 starter.

22. Archer Reid - Hardly got going with preseason training before being placed in a leg brace in early December to fix a pre-existing left knee issue. Did very little training for about a month, but by mid-Jan he had ditched his brace and was starting to get moving again. Over the last month he's mostly just been doing straight-line running. Joined in a full training session on Feb 7 but hasn't been in main training since, so looks like the club is taking it slow with his recovery. Looks a decent size already but still lots of room to fill out his frame. No clear return to play timeframe yet but at a guess, first month of the season seems like what he's on track for.

23. Alex Witherden - Not much to note from Witho's preseason. Hasn't had any injury concerns and hasn't stood out much either, just working away. He's definitely worked on his endurance the last couple of years - finished 5th in the senior players' MAS running test. Not sure if he makes the Round 1 team although he has generally been in the preferred 'A' team during match sim. Takes a lot of kick-outs.

24. Harvey Johnston - Has shown some promising glimpses this preseason without standing out a heap - in fact he's one of the hardest players for me to pick out at training. Has gotten through injury-free thus far, though the club has managed him occasionally - was eased into an AFL program draftee in November/December alongside the draftees, and had a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago alongside Harley where he sat out match sim. Mostly he's been involved in everything though and has been lining up mostly on a wing. Has nice skills and a good side step on him. Still has a bit of size to put on and some more development to go until he's AFL-ready I think but it'll be good to follow how he goes this year in the WAFL.

25. Matt Flynn - Liking what I'm seeing so far. Has been rotating with Bailey Williams during match sim, where Flynn will take the opening centre bounce and the next few after while Williams sits up forward, and then they'll swap for a bit as Flynn plays up forward or rests on the bench. He's a big boy and his ruck work has been sound (albeit against significantly weaker opponents), but what has impressed me the most is his work at ground level. On multiple occasions he's been able to somehow dodge his way through traffic and get a clean disposal out despite his lumbering appearance, which honestly took me by surprise. Has also shown an ability to hit the scoreboard in a few of the match sims over summer. Excited to see how his partnership with Bailey develops this year.

26. Zane Trew - Contractually was still officially unsigned when the 1st-4th year players returned to training, and his early absence from the track in November seemed to suggest he'd been cut, though we later found out this was due to illness. Anyway, by December he was in full training but when he returned from the Christmas break, he wasn't training with the main group due to what was reported as a back issue. He was running well early on so it seemed his absence from full training would be short, but it's now been about a month of him doing the same stuff - a lot of straight-line running away from the main group, with occasionally some change of direction work. No real clarity on when he'll be available to play again, though the silver lining here is that because he's been doing so much running, he's been able to maintain a high level of fitness over his time away and probably won't take long to integrate back with the main group once he's over his injury.

27. Jack Darling - A bit of an interrupted preseason for JD but overall looking in good touch. Was one of the last to return to training in November, but when he did he was straight back into it - though pre-Christmas he wore a bright yellow cap during competitive work which indicated no contact for him. Despite not looking hampered at all this continued well into January, but by early Feb he had ditched the cap and was looking great, kicking 3 goals in the first quarter of match sim on Feb 2. Unfortunately in the same training session he sustained a minor hamstring injury, and since then has been gradually building his way back. Targeting a return for the Adelaide practice match which he looks well and truly on track for.

28. Tom Cole - An uninterrupted preseason for Cole, though with his previous ankle issues he sometimes sits out certain drills or has lighter days on the track. Returned to training in impressive condition, coming 3rd in the MAS running test. Was a standout in match sim on Feb 8 where his rebound and will to take the game on was impressive. Building nicely into the season.

29. Clay Hall - Outside of Harley probably the standout draftee on the track. Eased into training after being drafted with a slight back issue, though by January he was in full training again and beginning to show his quality. His physicality and ball use by hand in congestion is good, but he also has really strong pace and attacking flair which I didn't necessarily expect from him. Has started on the 'A' team in match sim a couple of times so he was really gathering momentum for an early debut before a (fairly minor) ankle injury in the Feb 17 intraclub match grounded him. Still a decent chance to be fit for Round 1 but probably less likely to feature now given his setback. Still look forward to seeing the impact he can make as he builds into this season.

30. Harry Barnett - Has had an injury-free preseason so far. Looks quite well-built although still seems a way off being able to impact at senior level. Hasn't been a standout during match sim work but generally splits his time between the ruck and up forward - often shares the ruck duties with Livingstone, Jamieson and Jack Williams for the 'B' team so a bit less pure ruck time than last year. Hoping to see some decent growth from Harry in the WAFL this year.


31. Jamaine Jones - Has looked outstanding at stages this preseason but has also been hampered by a few niggles. Was up the front of the running groups in Nov/Dec alongside the likes of Ginbey which is generally a good indication of a high level of fitness, though in mid-December he and Ginbey's training loads were wound right back. Still not sure what Jones' issue was, though after the Christmas break he was back in full training again. Was a standout in the match sim on Jan 24 with his run and dash out of defence. On Feb 5 the club reported Jones was dealing with groin soreness, though in the same week as that announcement he played a full game of match sim, so it must have been very minor. Sat out the intraclub on Feb 17 with a minor hip issue, though it seems this isn't a major concern. Hopefully we see him in full flight again soon because I think he's got a lot to offer us when fit.

32. Bailey Williams - A new role for Baz this preseason working up forward and pinch hitting in the ruck as he rotates with Matt Flynn. Outside of a minor knee issue in December, he has completed a full preseason. Still seems to be adjusting to his new fwd/ruck role and I wouldn't expect wonders from him to start off with, but I like his potential in that position. Has taken a few nice pack clunks over preseason but I still think he's had his biggest impact when thrown into the ruck where he's really dominated against lesser opponents. As has been discussed on here, I reckon he could become one of the better second rucks around the league in terms of ability to impact in the ruck in bursts.

33. Rhett Bazzo - Has been managed through a lot of preseason but generally has taken part in the match sim work. Hasn't really stood out to me during the competitive stuff, though it looks like he's put on a lot of size over the off-season. Didn't participate in the intraclub due to groin soreness and will be on light duties for the next few weeks as he's deloaded and then rebuilds again. I'm thinking we'll have to show some patience with Bazzo this year but hopefully he surprises me.

34. Jack Williams - An uninterrupted though fairly quiet preseason for Jack. Looks a bit bigger than last year but hasn't really stood out to me much during match sim and competitive work. Generally starting on the 'B' team - seems to be a little way behind Maric and Waterman in the battle for a tall forward spot at AFL level. Playing mainly forward with occasional stints in the ruck.

35. Josh Rotham - Hasn't really got going thus far. Was eased into training pre-Christmas and wore a bright green no-contact cap for a few weeks, but was back in full training by the time the squad broke off for their break. Upon his return in January he didn't last very long before developing groin soreness and having his training shut down completely for a couple of weeks. From early Feb he has been gradually increasing his training loads and looks close to re-joining full training. According to the club he's pushing to be available for the Adelaide practice game.

36. Loch Rawlinson - An injury-free first preseason for Rawlinson and he's showed some encouraging glimpses over summer. Like all draftees was eased into full training pre-Christmas but he eventually began training with the forwards. Is fairly well-built for his age and looks a crafty player - has produced a couple of moments this preseason (goals from the pocket, selling candy) which have shown there might be something there to work with. Not a huge ball-winner during match sim and it appears will start in the WAFL, but again there have been encouraging signs and it'll be interesting to see how he goes in the 2s this year.

37. Tom Barrass - Doing what he has to do, building nicely. Occasionally sits out some drills but for the most part has completed a full preseason. Certainly hasn't shown any indication of his back injury - was one of our best performers during the match sim on Feb 8 where he marked everything that came his way.

38. Jordyn Baker - Another one to return to training in November officially out of contract, though his extension was announced a couple weeks later. Has had a few minor interruptions through Jan and early Feb which kept him on lighter duties and sometimes sitting out of match sim, but at the moment appears to be in full training. Has been training with the backs and looks to have added some size since last year. Has some skillsTM and could push for a selection later in the season, but will probably be in the WAFL to start.

39. Coen Livingstone - Still a pretty raw talent, but I like his aggression and competitiveness. Has been injury-free this preseason although I've noticed he always wears strapping on his left knee. During match sim he seems to start in the ruck but also spends a fair bit of time forward when Barnett/Jamieson/JWilliams go into the ruck. Have noticed he'll often separate from the main group to work on set shots, sometimes alongside Chance Bateman. Doubt we see him at AFL level this year but hoping he adjusts well to senior WAFL level.

40. Callum Jamieson - Had a delayed start to preseason in Nov/Dec and appeared to be on a unique program - we later learned this was due to groin soreness. Was doing some unusual training pre-Christmas, often doing exercises barefoot and just watching on for many training sessions. Fortunately after the Christmas break he looked back on track, and by now is back to full training - though he still occasionally gets managed through some drills. Spent a lot of time recently training up forward and showed some good competitiveness in match sim, though with Harry Edwards and Bazzo going down with injury in the past week, he was trialled as a key back at training on Feb 21. Reckon we might see him deployed there on Saturday against Fremantle with Gov also under an injury cloud.


41. Ryan Maric - Has built really nicely into this preseason and is flying at the moment. Hasn't missed a beat injury-wise and looks a bit bigger than last season. Has still retained his speed and agility (which by the way is pretty impressive for his height) despite his added weight. As the competitive work has ramped up over the last few weeks Maric has really lifted - been regularly kicking multiple goals in match sim and gets himself involved in a lot of other scoring passages where his footy smarts come to the fore. As I've mentioned he seems to be locked in a battle with Waterman for the final tall forward spot in the side, and though both are in good touch, I've probably got Maric just ahead at the moment. A month ago I would've said Waterman though so it can easily change again. It's unclear the way the club sees it - both have spent time on both the 'A' and 'B' teams in match sim. Great to have some proper selection pressure up forward, may it continue.

42. Harry Edwards - I'm bullish on Harry's potential but the poor guy just can't get a clean run at it. Was on a separate program pre-Christmas as he shook off the last of his 2023 groin concerns, but by the new year he was back into full training. Through Jan and early Feb he looked to be building nicely with competitive performances down back - he looked an imposing size and was taking some nice intercept marks and defending well. Just as he was getting into a nice groove though Harry broke his finger during the intraclub which will see him undergo surgery and miss at least the next few weeks.

43. Tyrell Dewar - A really encouraging preseason so far. Coming off a pretty low base he's done a lot to impress with a good run at it with his body. Firstly in his return to training last year he looked to have added some size and was at the front of the running groups alongside Jones and Ginbey, so it seemed physically he'd come back in great shape. Football-wise he's shown real class in his field kicking and also up forward - has hit the scoreboard on a few occasions over summer. Still has to work on consistency but he's shown clear growth in the last 12 months and I look forward to seeing if he can start pressing his case for AFL selection this year.

45. Coby Burgiel - Honestly can't say he's stood out much to me, but he did have a minor hamstring setback in mid-Jan which would've been frustrating for him. He's well and truly back into full training now though. Has trained with the backs over preseason and is a skilful player, looks a good size now too. Doesn't appear to be in the frame for Round 1 selection, but if he can string together strong WAFL form like he threatened to last year, I could easily see him make his debut at some point.

49. Jai Culley - Making great progress in his recovery from his ACL last year. Was already doing agility and change-of-direction work pre-Christmas and has since been steadily increasing his training loads to now, where he's been doing absolutely everything (and then some) except contact/competitive work. At least, that was until this Wednesday when he joined in for a bit of match sim for the first time since his injury last year. He'll now continue to build that and at a guess is probably looking at a return to football within the first month of the season. The way he's been attacking his rehab over summer has been admirable and a testament to his impressive work ethic.




Some others who have made appearances at training this preseason:
  • Trey Ruscoe - A new WAFL Eagles signing, crossing over from Collingwood. Has been participating in 1-2 sessions a week since late November. Has been playing in a key defensive role, though went forward once during match sim and kicked 3 goals in a quarter. Seems to provide great energy to the group and looks like a good WAFL signing.
  • Jason Gillbee - The milk man from GWS has come across and joined the WAFL Eagles for this season. Has been doing the same amount of training as Ruscoe and will usually line up on the wing - is a very good runner. Seems like a pretty unique character and from what I can tell he's gotten pretty close with Harley, Longy, Bazzo and some of the other younger boys off the field which is always good.
  • Bailey Banfield - The son of Drew, Bailey is part of our 2nd Generation Academy and generally attended the lighter mid-week training sessions from mid-December through to the end of Jan. Was eligible for the 2023 draft but missed out. Trained with the mids across his time and looked pretty well-built although fairly short. Didn't look too out of place.
  • Malakai Champion - A highly rated prospect from our NGA who will likely be taken at this year's draft. Is short and slightly built but is very quick and has great skills. Trained at the same time as Banfield did.
  • Tore Nelson - Also part of our NGA. Trained with us a little less than Banfield and Champion but when he was out there was training with the backs. Looks a medium size with pretty good skills, not sure where he sits in terms of the draft though
  • Anthony Hansen - Saw him at one training session in late Jan, also from our NGA. Small and slightly built, didn't pay close attention to him.
  • A number of other WAFL Eagles have made appearances, mainly to make up numbers during match sims - new signings in James Spadanuda (what a name), Luke Yeo (cousin of Elliot), Harley Sparks; and continuing WAFL Eagles including Darby McCarthy, Jack Eastough, Ethan Hansen and Shannon Lucassen.
 
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Okay, so with our first competitive hitout against proper opposition getting underway this Saturday against Fremantle, I thought it would be a good idea to review how each player's preseason has gone thus far.

Having watched a lot of training sessions over summer, this is how I've seen things player by player:

(Disclaimer: this is a VERY long post and one I've been typing up across a few days now. Nobody should read it all (unless you're really interested of course) but feel free to skip to any players you're interested in to see how they've gone.

I've put it in spoiler chunks so it doesn't take up your whole page if you're not interested. Also note that this is just one nuffy's point of view - though I've tried to be fairly objective in my write-ups.

Does any of this mean much when the real stuff starts? Debatable. But I've watched training a lot over summer so figured I may as well collate what I've seen into one post).



1. Liam Ryan - Returned to training in November before senior players were required back and after two hamstring surgeries last year, he began by working away from the main group. Looked in reasonable physical shape, though after such a long time without properly running his fitness base definitely needed work. Nevertheless as December wore on he did more and more with the main group and by the time players returned in January he was nearly back in full training. Didn't last very long though before injuring his other hamstring tendon at training on Jan 15 and undergoing surgery. Was reported that he'd miss 10-12 weeks and it seems he's well on track with that timeline. Started running again in early Feb and is currently still building his running loads - appears on track to return in the first month of the season. Does a lot of his rehab work with our indigenous liason officer Chance Bateman.

2. Jake Waterman - One of the more impressive preseasons among the squad. A lot of uncertainty around the physical condition he'd come back in after being ravaged by ulcerative colitis last year, but he surprised everyone by not only returning (before he was required) in full training but winning the senior players' MAS running test in November. Had a great period pre-Christmas and hasn't had any setbacks throughout the summer. His work rate is a real highlight during match play, though appears to be battling it out with Ryan Maric at the moment for the final tall forward spot in the Round 1 team.

3. Andrew Gaff - An uninterrupted summer for Gaffy and came second to Waterman in the MAS running test - an impressive result which we've come to expect from him. Returned to training in November earlier than required. Football-wise he's been lining up exclusively on the wing and his performances during match play have been mixed - busy some days, quiet on others. Caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago when left out of the 'A' team during match sim, though since then he's often been included in the probables team. Simmo says the wing spot is up for grabs so it's unclear whether he'll start Round 1 - my guess is that we'll give him first crack at the wing spot, but it depends a bit on the form of Chesser over the next few weeks.

4. Dom Sheed - Was in full training up to Dec 5 when he pulled up with a hotspot in his foot and was placed in a moon boot. To me it seems we're taking a more conservative approach this time around with him, because he didn't do any real training of note until early Feb when he started running and work on the grandstand stairs. At this stage he's still building back his straight-line running and looks a fair way off re-joining the main group.

5. Jayden Hunt - A very good summer from this guy. Eased back into a full training load in November after returning a week earlier than required and hasn't had any injury interruptions so far. During match sim and other drills there seems to be a real emphasis to get the ball into his hands - and his run and carry has been elite so far.

6. Elliot Yeo - Visited Qatar in the off-season to try get on top of his soft tissue issues, and whether it's as a result of his trip or not, he seems to be on a slightly different program to everyone this preseason. Often warms up with a trainer separate from the main group, occasionally sit out drills to do separate running or work on the grandstand stairs. When he is out there he's been playing exclusively midfield and looks very good - powerful, strong, dynamic. Other than a minor ankle tweak in November (which generated a lot of media panic) he hasn't been troubled by injuries so far. Fingers crossed that unlike last year, this continues when the real stuff starts.

7. Reuben Ginbey - An incredible athlete with the work ethic to match. Put on significant size over the break and has maintained - if not improved - his strong aerobic capacity in the meantime. Took out the MAS running test the 1st-4th year players did, and from what I've heard would've beat Waterman and all the senior players if he had taken part in their test. His top speed is also among the best at the club - he covers the ground extremely well. Was flying until mid-December when his training loads got wound right back - I'm assuming this was due to the groin soreness that was later reported on in January. After the Christmas break he began building again, and through Jan and early Feb he began integrating back into full training and match sim. At the moment he seems to be flying again. Football-wise I would probably temper expectations on Ginbey in his second season, still seems to be figuring out how to best use his athletic prowess on the football field. Work rate, tackling and two-way running have been his strengths from my POV. He is regularly one of the last to leave the track when the players finish training.

8. Elijah Hewett - We learned recently of his battles with chronic sesamoiditis in his feet, but for most of the summer we weren't really sure what was going on with him, other than the fact it was foot-related. Did little bits of training here and there pre-Christmas but nothing really substantial, and was rarely sighted on the track in January. Flew over to Melbourne a few weeks ago to visit Dr Sue Mayes at the Australian Ballet to try and fix his feet issues. Since returning he's been gradually increasing his training load, and at the moment continues to build his straight-line running. No clear return date yet but looks to be progressing well.

9. Harley Reid - The media hype around him over summer has been unlike anything we've ever seen with a draftee, but his work on the track has been pretty impressive. Like all draftees he was eased into an AFL program pre-Christmas and since then has mostly been in full training - aside from a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago where the club managed him out of full training and match sim. Splits his time between the backline and the midfield, and aside from his freakish strength and ability, his aggression at the contest and burst speed have been traits which I've been pleasantly surprised with. Already looks comfortable playing alongside seasoned bodies and loves taking the game on - it doesn't work every time but he has great intent.

10. Tyler Brockman - Took some time to adjust to his new club, but after a few weeks he really started bringing his quality to the track and at the moment is looking great - I'm really bullish as to what he can do this season and in the years to come. Occasionally for whatever reason will runs laps instead of doing full training but on the whole an injury-free preseason. His skill level and pace was apparent pretty early on, but something that's really impressed me recently is his agility and evasiveness through traffic. Splitting his time between the forward line and the midfield at the moment and looks a likely Round 1 starter.


11. Tim Kelly - A fairly standard summer for Kelly - he's done what he needs to and is moving well. Returned to training earlier than required, looked in good shape and was in full training until a minor hamstring strain on Jan 17. Over the next 3-4 weeks he gradually began integrating back in with the main group and match sim, and by now he's back in full training again.

12. Oscar Allen - Looking good. Returned to training in November earlier than required and after a couple of weeks wearing a yellow non-contact hat at training, he was back to full fitness (believe he had a couple of off-season surgeries) and hasn't had any injury setbacks so far. Looks to be thriving in his new role of co-captain - is regularly our leading goalscorer at the end of match sim and kicked 6 in a match sim a couple weeks ago.

13. Noah Long - Has overall had a good summer. Injury-free and looks in good physical nick - probably a bit more developed than he was 12 months ago. Has been training predominantly up forward and is often a busy contributor during match sim. Footy smarts and movement through traffic is impressive.

14. Liam Duggan - Not a heap to note from Duggo's preseason. Came back to training early and in very good shape - finished top 5 in the MAS running test. Has been training mostly in the midfield over the preseason, though spent a fair bit of time in defence during the intraclub.

15. Jamie Cripps - Looking fit and in really good touch - has completed a full preseason to date. His work rate in the forward line is noticeable at training and impressive. Kicked 3 goals in the intraclub on Saturday and often finds himself in open space as a result of his hard running.

16. Luke Edwards - Some encouraging signs from Luke. Outside of a minor hip issue which limited him for about a week in late Jan/early Feb, he's gotten through a full preseason. Has been playing a mix between wing and inside mid and showed some good signs a few weeks ago at stoppages with his evasiveness and ball use. Looks a bit broader through the shoulders than he did last year too. Was in the 'A' team in the intraclub on Feb 17 so he might actually be closer to a Round 1 start than many think - worth noting coaches have generally had a lot of patience for him in the last couple of years.

18. Campbell Chesser - Has been eased through a lot of this preseason as he deals with lingering ankle soreness but physically he returned in very good shape - came runner-up to Ginbey in the 1st-4th year players' MAS running test. Will often have lighter training days where he'll work on skills and touch instead of participating with the main group, but generally hasn't missed the higher-intensity match sim sessions or the intraclub - points to load management rather than any setback. Has been playing both wing and inside mid and has built nicely over recent weeks, showing some good glimpses at stoppages during the intraclub. Generally has been starting on the 'B' team during competitive work but continued growth over the coming weeks could see that change.

19. Brady Hough - Looks to have again put on size over the off-season - he's still pretty slightly built but it doesn't stand out as much anymore. Returned to training in November by spending most of his time away from the main group, but quickly built back into things and by January was in full flight again. Has been training mostly with the backs and now at 192cm, has been playing on taller players (Waterman, Maric) at training as well as the smaller guys. Liking his competitiveness, composure and pace over this preseason. Looks a lock for the Round 1 team if fit.

20. Jeremy McGovern - Doing what he needs to do as a senior player. Is the oldest player on our list now and naturally gets managed through some drills and training sessions, though he looks in good shape. Been really keen to move the ball fast during competitive work, was very impressive in the match sim on Feb 8. Got through preseason unscathed until pulling up from the intraclub on Feb 17 with groin soreness - though early indications are that this is very minor and I wouldn't expect it to limit him for very long.


21. Jack Petruccelle - It's been a strong summer for Petch who looks ready to take another step this year. Was managed a bit through December but since returning from the Christmas break he's been in full training. Looks stronger, skilful, is running to the right places and generally looks a smarter footballer than years gone by. Has primarily been training with the forwards but does sometimes move up the ground and through the midfield during competitive work, and has produced some good line-breaking plays on a few occasions. Looks a likely Round 1 starter.

22. Archer Reid - Hardly got going with preseason training before being placed in a leg brace in early December to fix a pre-existing left knee issue. Did very little training for about a month, but by mid-Jan he had ditched his brace and was starting to get moving again. Over the last month he's mostly just been doing straight-line running. Joined in a full training session on Feb 7 but hasn't been in main training since, so looks like the club is taking it slow with his recovery. Looks a decent size already but still lots of room to fill out his frame. No clear return to play timeframe yet but at a guess, first month of the season seems like what he's on track for.

23. Alex Witherden - Not much to note from Witho's preseason. Hasn't had any injury concerns and hasn't stood out much either, just working away. He's definitely worked on his endurance the last couple of years - finished 5th in the senior players' MAS running test. Not sure if he makes the Round 1 team although he has generally been in the preferred 'A' team during match sim. Takes a lot of kick-outs.

24. Harvey Johnston - Has shown some promising glimpses this preseason without standing out a heap - in fact he's one of the hardest players for me to pick out at training. Has gotten through injury-free thus far, though the club has managed him occasionally - was eased into an AFL program draftee in November/December alongside the draftees, and had a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago alongside Harley where he sat out match sim. Mostly he's been involved in everything though and has been lining up mostly on a wing. Has nice skills and a good side step on him. Still has a bit of size to put on and some more development to go until he's AFL-ready I think but it'll be good to follow how he goes this year in the WAFL.

25. Matt Flynn - Liking what I'm seeing so far. Has been rotating with Bailey Williams during match sim, where Flynn will take the opening centre bounce and the next few after while Williams sits up forward, and then they'll swap for a bit as Flynn plays up forward or rests on the bench. He's a big boy and his ruck work has been sound (albeit against significantly weaker opponents), but what has impressed me the most is his work at ground level. On multiple occasions he's been able to somehow dodge his way through traffic and get a clean disposal out despite his lumbering appearance, which honestly took me by surprise. Has also shown an ability to hit the scoreboard in a few of the match sims over summer. Excited to see how his partnership with Bailey develops this year.

26. Zane Trew - Contractually was still officially unsigned when the 1st-4th year players returned to training, and his early absence from the track in November seemed to suggest he'd been cut, though we later found out this was due to illness. Anyway, by December he was in full training but when he returned from the Christmas break, he wasn't training with the main group due to what was reported as a back issue. He was running well early on so it seemed his absence from full training would be short, but it's now been about a month of him doing the same stuff - a lot of straight-line running away from the main group, with occasionally some change of direction work. No real clarity on when he'll be available to play again, though the silver lining here is that because he's been doing so much running, he's been able to maintain a high level of fitness over his time away and probably won't take long to integrate back with the main group once he's over his injury.

27. Jack Darling - A bit of an interrupted preseason for JD but overall looking in good touch. Was one of the last to return to training in November, but when he did he was straight back into it - though pre-Christmas he wore a bright yellow cap during competitive work which indicated no contact for him. Despite not looking hampered at all this continued well into January, but by early Feb he had ditched the cap and was looking great, kicking 3 goals in the first quarter of match sim on Feb 2. Unfortunately in the same training session he sustained a minor hamstring injury, and since then has been gradually building his way back. Targeting a return for the Adelaide practice match which he looks well and truly on track for.

28. Tom Cole - An uninterrupted preseason for Cole, though with his previous ankle issues he sometimes sits out certain drills or has lighter days on the track. Returned to training in impressive condition, coming 3rd in the MAS running test. Was a standout in match sim on Feb 8 where his rebound and will to take the game on was impressive. Building nicely into the season.

29. Clay Hall - Outside of Harley probably the standout draftee on the track. Eased into training after being drafted with a slight back issue, though by January he was in full training again and beginning to show his quality. His physicality and ball use by hand in congestion is good, but he also has really strong pace and attacking flair which I didn't necessarily expect from him. Has started on the 'A' team in match sim a couple of times so he was really gathering momentum for an early debut before a (fairly minor) ankle injury in the Feb 17 intraclub match grounded him. Still a decent chance to be fit for Round 1 but probably less likely to feature now given his setback. Still look forward to seeing the impact he can make as he builds into this season.

30. Harry Barnett - Has had an injury-free preseason so far. Looks quite well-built although still seems a way off being able to impact at senior level. Hasn't been a standout during match sim work but generally splits his time between the ruck and up forward - often shares the ruck duties with Livingstone, Jamieson and Jack Williams for the 'B' team so a bit less pure ruck time than last year. Hoping to see some decent growth from Harry in the WAFL this year.


31. Jamaine Jones - Has looked outstanding at stages this preseason but has also been hampered by a few niggles. Was up the front of the running groups in Nov/Dec alongside the likes of Ginbey which is generally a good indication of a high level of fitness, though in mid-December he and Ginbey's training loads were wound right back. Still not sure what Jones' issue was, though after the Christmas break he was back in full training again. Was a standout in the match sim on Jan 24 with his run and dash out of defence. On Feb 5 the club reported Jones was dealing with groin soreness, though in the same week as that announcement he played a full game of match sim, so it must have been very minor. Sat out the intraclub on Feb 17 with a minor hip issue, though it seems this isn't a major concern. Hopefully we see him in full flight again soon because I think he's got a lot to offer us when fit.

32. Bailey Williams - A new role for Baz this preseason working up forward and pinch hitting in the ruck as he rotates with Matt Flynn. Outside of a minor knee issue in December, he has completed a full preseason. Still seems to be adjusting to his new fwd/ruck role and I wouldn't expect wonders from him to start off with, but I like his potential in that position. Has taken a few nice pack clunks over preseason but I still think he's had his biggest impact when thrown into the ruck where he's really dominated against lesser opponents. As has been discussed on here, I reckon he could become one of the better second rucks around the league in terms of ability to impact in the ruck in bursts.

33. Rhett Bazzo - Has been managed through a lot of preseason but generally has taken part in the match sim work. Hasn't really stood out to me during the competitive stuff, though it looks like he's put on a lot of size over the off-season. Didn't participate in the intraclub due to groin soreness and will be on light duties for the next few weeks as he's deloaded and then rebuilds again. I'm thinking we'll have to show some patience with Bazzo this year but hopefully he surprises me.

34. Jack Williams - An uninterrupted though fairly quiet preseason for Jack. Looks a bit bigger than last year but hasn't really stood out to me much during match sim and competitive work. Generally starting on the 'B' team - seems to be a little way behind Maric and Waterman in the battle for a tall forward spot at AFL level. Playing mainly forward with occasional stints in the ruck.

35. Josh Rotham - Hasn't really got going thus far. Was eased into training pre-Christmas and wore a bright green no-contact cap for a few weeks, but was back in full training by the time the squad broke off for their break. Upon his return in January he didn't last very long before developing groin soreness and having his training shut down completely for a couple of weeks. From early Feb he has been gradually increasing his training loads and looks close to re-joining full training. According to the club he's pushing to be available for the Adelaide practice game.

36. Loch Rawlinson - An injury-free first preseason for Rawlinson and he's showed some encouraging glimpses over summer. Like all draftees was eased into full training pre-Christmas but he eventually began training with the forwards. Is fairly well-built for his age and looks a crafty player - has produced a couple of moments this preseason (goals from the pocket, selling candy) which have shown there might be something there to work with. Not a huge ball-winner during match sim and it appears will start in the WAFL, but again there have been encouraging signs and it'll be interesting to see how he goes in the 2s this year.

37. Tom Barrass - Doing what he has to do, building nicely. Occasionally sits out some drills but for the most part has completed a full preseason. Certainly hasn't shown any indication of his back injury - was one of our best performers during the match sim on Feb 8 where he marked everything that came his way.

38. Jordyn Baker - Another one to return to training in November officially out of contract, though his extension was announced a couple weeks later. Has had a few minor interruptions through Jan and early Feb which kept him on lighter duties and sometimes sitting out of match sim, but at the moment appears to be in full training. Has been training with the backs and looks to have added some size since last year. Has some skillsTM and could push for a selection later in the season, but will probably be in the WAFL to start.

39. Coen Livingstone - Still a pretty raw talent, but I like his aggression and competitiveness. Has been injury-free this preseason although I've noticed he always wears strapping on his left knee. During match sim he seems to start in the ruck but also spends a fair bit of time forward when Barnett/Jamieson/JWilliams go into the ruck. Have noticed he'll often separate from the main group to work on set shots, sometimes alongside Chance Bateman. Doubt we see him at AFL level this year but hoping he adjusts well to senior WAFL level.

40. Callum Jamieson - Had a delayed start to preseason in Nov/Dec and appeared to be on a unique program - we later learned this was due to groin soreness. Was doing some unusual training pre-Christmas, often doing exercises barefoot and just watching on for many training sessions. Fortunately after the Christmas break he looked back on track, and by now is back to full training - though he still occasionally gets managed through some drills. Spent a lot of time recently training up forward and showed some good competitiveness in match sim, though with Harry Edwards and Bazzo going down with injury in the past week, he was trialled as a key back at training on Feb 21. Reckon we might see him deployed there on Saturday against Fremantle with Gov also under an injury cloud.


41. Ryan Maric - Has built really nicely into this preseason and is flying at the moment. Hasn't missed a beat injury-wise and looks a bit bigger than last season. Has still retained his speed and agility (which by the way is pretty impressive for his height) despite his added weight. As the competitive work has ramped up over the last few weeks Maric has really lifted - been regularly kicking multiple goals in match sim and gets himself involved in a lot of other scoring passages where his footy smarts come to the fore. As I've mentioned he seems to be locked in a battle with Waterman for the final tall forward spot in the side, and though both are in good touch, I've probably got Maric just ahead at the moment. A month ago I would've said Waterman though so it can easily change again. It's unclear the way the club sees it - both have spent time on both the 'A' and 'B' teams in match sim. Great to have some proper selection pressure up forward, may it continue.

42. Harry Edwards - I'm bullish on Harry's potential but the poor guy just can't get a clean run at it. Was on a separate program pre-Christmas as he shook off the last of his 2023 groin concerns, but by the new year he was back into full training. Through Jan and early Feb he looked to be building nicely with competitive performances down back - he looked an imposing size and was taking some nice intercept marks and defending well. Just as he was getting into a nice groove though Harry broke his finger during the intraclub which will see him undergo surgery and miss at least the next few weeks.

43. Tyrell Dewar - A really encouraging preseason so far. Coming off a pretty low base he's done a lot to impress with a good run at it with his body. Firstly in his return to training last year he looked to have added some size and was at the front of the running groups alongside Jones and Ginbey, so it seemed physically he'd come back in great shape. Football-wise he's shown real class in his field kicking and also up forward - has hit the scoreboard on a few occasions over summer. Still has to work on consistency but he's shown clear growth in the last 12 months and I look forward to seeing if he can start pressing his case for AFL selection this year.

45. Coby Burgiel - Honestly can't say he's stood out much to me, but he did have a minor hamstring setback in mid-Jan which would've been frustrating for him. He's well and truly back into full training now though. Has trained with the backs over preseason and is a skilful player, looks a good size now too. Doesn't appear to be in the frame for Round 1 selection, but if he can string together strong WAFL form like he threatened to last year, I could easily see him make his debut at some point.

49. Jai Culley - Making great progress in his recovery from his ACL last year. Was already doing agility and change-of-direction work pre-Christmas and has since been steadily increasing his training loads to now, where he's been doing absolutely everything (and then some) except contact/competitive work. At least, that was until this Wednesday when he joined in for a bit of match sim for the first time since his injury last year. He'll now continue to build that and at a guess is probably looking at a return to football within the first month of the season. The way he's been attacking his rehab over summer has been admirable and a testament to his impressive work ethic.




Some others who have made appearances at training this preseason:
  • Trey Ruscoe - A new WAFL Eagles signing, crossing over from Collingwood. Has been participating in 1-2 sessions a week since late November. Has been playing in a key defensive role, though went forward once during match sim and kicked 3 goals in a quarter. Seems to provide great energy to the group and looks like a good WAFL signing.
  • Jason Gillbee - The milk man from GWS has come across and joined the WAFL Eagles for this season. Has been doing the same amount of training as Ruscoe and will usually line up on the wing - is a very good runner. Seems like a pretty unique character and from what I can tell he's gotten pretty close with Harley, Longy, Bazzo and some of the other younger boys off the field which is always good.
  • Bailey Banfield - The son of Drew, Bailey is part of our 2nd Generation Academy and generally attended the lighter mid-week training sessions from mid-December through to the end of Jan. Was eligible for the 2023 draft but missed out. Trained with the mids across his time and looked pretty well-built although fairly short. Didn't look too out of place.
  • Malakai Champion - A highly rated prospect from our NGA who will likely be taken at this year's draft. Is short and slightly built but is very quick and has great skills. Trained at the same time as Banfield did.
  • Tore Nelson - Also part of our NGA. Trained with us a little less than Banfield and Champion but when he was out there was training with the backs. Looks a medium size with pretty good skills, not sure where he sits in terms of the draft though
  • Anthony Hansen - Saw him at one training session in late Jan, also from our NGA. Small and slightly built, didn't pay close attention to him.
  • A number of other WAFL Eagles have made appearances, mainly to make up numbers during match sims - new signings in James Spadanuda (what a name), Luke Yeo (cousin of Elliot), Harley Sparks; and continuing WAFL Eagles including Darby McCarthy, Jack Eastough, Ethan Hansen and Shannon Lucassen.

Appreciate the effort - awesome write up. Now I don't need to scroll through the last 60+ pages.


Finally found some time before the season actually gets going to come by here again.


Have been a lot more involved with junior footy again so far this year - my eldest (who previously has been happy to play kick-to-kick down at the park but hesitant to get involved with a club) has done an about face and gone all-in, which has then seen me suddenly thrown back into training and coaching with the club he is now involved with.

Quite surprised by both the numbers and quality of the kids, there are easily a few here already who may have a draftable ceiling if they continue on their current path.

Had one of those near-tearful proud dad moments when my son started to click with being in a club environment and began showcasing things that he has never done before. A 5ft 9in (at age 12) skinny ranga that nobody has seen before taking hangers all over the place generates some attention...

He insisted on being number 9 as well.


It's ok briztoon, if he turns out any good we're in the Lions Academy zone.
 
Appreciate the effort - awesome write up. Now I don't need to scroll through the last 60+ pages.


Finally found some time before the season actually gets going to come by here again.


Have been a lot more involved with junior footy again so far this year - my eldest (who previously has been happy to play kick-to-kick down at the park but hesitant to get involved with a club) has done an about face and gone all-in, which has then seen me suddenly thrown back into training and coaching with the club he is now involved with.

Quite surprised by both the numbers and quality of the kids, there are easily a few here already who may have a draftable ceiling if they continue on their current path.

Had one of those near-tearful proud dad moments when my son started to click with being in a club environment and began showcasing things that he has never done before. A 5ft 9in (at age 12) skinny ranga that nobody has seen before taking hangers all over the place generates some attention...

He insisted on being number 9 as well.


It's ok briztoon, if he turns out any good we're in the Lions Academy zone.
Which junior club are you at?
 
Which junior club are you at?

Signed him up at Redcliffe, knew very little of them beforehand, but received word that they would be good for a kid like mine who was new to club footy. The new facilities they have are great as well.

Very happy with the decision so far as he is enjoying it and improving rapidly.


As for me, I'm just a silly kent who can't help but get involved once the footballs come out.
 

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Having been to a few Freo functions (I know, ew) I will say hearing them speak and the way they run the events they do seem ahead of us in areas like women's footy, awareness of indigenous matters, community engagement and stuff like that. Hayward is a really big presence in that space and very well respected outside footy circles as well. More of a personal connection element with their sponsors specifically also from what I gathered (few admin types had crossed from one WA club to another and all lauded Freo in this area).

Some of the speeches were genuinely funny and self-aware as well - the WC board members I've heard speak (pre-Pyke) have been pretty standard and dry by comparison.

Obviously I like that we're success driven, that's got to come first, but worth acknowledging what we could take away from them as well.
So they use a lot of wank words, at their meetings, addresses to the public, how can you say they are self aware, after the big deal about how they are going to win everything both men and women this week, heard it all before. Fremantle should shut TFU and actually achieve
something. What could we take away from them, young fella, I am very interested, to hear your thoughts.
 
So they use a lot of wank words, at their meetings, addresses to the public, how can you say they are self aware, after the big deal about how they are going to win everything both men and women this week, heard it all before. Fremantle should shut TFU and actually achieve
something. What could we take away from them, young fella, I am very interested, to hear your thoughts.


I think the 'wank words' you're talking about in an awareness sense mean a lot more to supporters of many/all demographics than they may do to yourself - but as a concrete example the fact that they beat us in their pitch to get a women's team in the league first is a definite loss for us, given we've been more successful financially and results-wise in our men's side. And think that those that have also followed the AFLW semi-closely would agree up to this year their program in that front has been run a lot more sharply than ours. It's something I'm pretty invested in and an area I'm keen to see WC overtake them in.

Think with the Daisy stuff amongst other things we've shown a lot of signs of better focus in that area - but if you want an example relevant to just the mens, their club media/training reports and transparency to their fans has been better than ours the last few years and reflects the more open way their board tends to engage with their members - another area we do thankfully seem to be stepping up in this year.

Regarding the self-aware bit specifically, of course they're going to say stuff about winning expectations, what else are you going to sell to members? We'll likely be celebrating if we make it out of the bottom 4 this year but for most other clubs, they'd be saying the same thing as Freo. But one of their board members also did make a joke in one of their speeches about being more successful than Gold Coast which, I dunno, that's funny, self-aware and I rate it. Kind of like GWS' social media presence - think it's fun to have a bit of a laugh at yourselves, if we did more of that but also continued to be more successful on-field as a club I'd take it.

I said in my original post that results still come first, and they do, but * it I want to be better than the purples at everything - I want better merch, more supporters in Bhutan, I want us to play the first game on Mars, the lot of it ;). Yeah we've been more successful but I'd still like to be pushing to learn from and exceed the strengths of Freo and all the other clubs.

*Apologies thread-wise this probably isn't a super pre-season training line of argument, just thought worth a reply
 
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Okay, so with our first competitive hitout against proper opposition getting underway this Saturday against Fremantle, I thought it would be a good idea to review how each player's preseason has gone thus far.

Having watched a lot of training sessions over summer, this is how I've seen things player by player:

(Disclaimer: this is a VERY long post and one I've been typing up across a few days now. Nobody should read it all (unless you're really interested of course) but feel free to skip to any players you're interested in to see how they've gone.

I've put it in spoiler chunks so it doesn't take up your whole page if you're not interested. Also note that this is just one nuffy's point of view - though I've tried to be fairly objective in my write-ups.

Does any of this mean much when the real stuff starts? Debatable. But I've watched training a lot over summer so figured I may as well collate what I've seen into one post).



1. Liam Ryan - Returned to training in November before senior players were required back and after two hamstring surgeries last year, he began by working away from the main group. Looked in reasonable physical shape, though after such a long time without properly running his fitness base definitely needed work. Nevertheless as December wore on he did more and more with the main group and by the time players returned in January he was nearly back in full training. Didn't last very long though before injuring his other hamstring tendon at training on Jan 15 and undergoing surgery. Was reported that he'd miss 10-12 weeks and it seems he's well on track with that timeline. Started running again in early Feb and is currently still building his running loads - appears on track to return in the first month of the season. Does a lot of his rehab work with our indigenous liason officer Chance Bateman.

2. Jake Waterman - One of the more impressive preseasons among the squad. A lot of uncertainty around the physical condition he'd come back in after being ravaged by ulcerative colitis last year, but he surprised everyone by not only returning (before he was required) in full training but winning the senior players' MAS running test in November. Had a great period pre-Christmas and hasn't had any setbacks throughout the summer. His work rate is a real highlight during match play, though appears to be battling it out with Ryan Maric at the moment for the final tall forward spot in the Round 1 team.

3. Andrew Gaff - An uninterrupted summer for Gaffy and came second to Waterman in the MAS running test - an impressive result which we've come to expect from him. Returned to training in November earlier than required. Football-wise he's been lining up exclusively on the wing and his performances during match play have been mixed - busy some days, quiet on others. Caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago when left out of the 'A' team during match sim, though since then he's often been included in the probables team. Simmo says the wing spot is up for grabs so it's unclear whether he'll start Round 1 - my guess is that we'll give him first crack at the wing spot, but it depends a bit on the form of Chesser over the next few weeks.

4. Dom Sheed - Was in full training up to Dec 5 when he pulled up with a hotspot in his foot and was placed in a moon boot. To me it seems we're taking a more conservative approach this time around with him, because he didn't do any real training of note until early Feb when he started running and work on the grandstand stairs. At this stage he's still building back his straight-line running and looks a fair way off re-joining the main group.

5. Jayden Hunt - A very good summer from this guy. Eased back into a full training load in November after returning a week earlier than required and hasn't had any injury interruptions so far. During match sim and other drills there seems to be a real emphasis to get the ball into his hands - and his run and carry has been elite so far.

6. Elliot Yeo - Visited Qatar in the off-season to try get on top of his soft tissue issues, and whether it's as a result of his trip or not, he seems to be on a slightly different program to everyone this preseason. Often warms up with a trainer separate from the main group, occasionally sit out drills to do separate running or work on the grandstand stairs. When he is out there he's been playing exclusively midfield and looks very good - powerful, strong, dynamic. Other than a minor ankle tweak in November (which generated a lot of media panic) he hasn't been troubled by injuries so far. Fingers crossed that unlike last year, this continues when the real stuff starts.

7. Reuben Ginbey - An incredible athlete with the work ethic to match. Put on significant size over the break and has maintained - if not improved - his strong aerobic capacity in the meantime. Took out the MAS running test the 1st-4th year players did, and from what I've heard would've beat Waterman and all the senior players if he had taken part in their test. His top speed is also among the best at the club - he covers the ground extremely well. Was flying until mid-December when his training loads got wound right back - I'm assuming this was due to the groin soreness that was later reported on in January. After the Christmas break he began building again, and through Jan and early Feb he began integrating back into full training and match sim. At the moment he seems to be flying again. Football-wise I would probably temper expectations on Ginbey in his second season, still seems to be figuring out how to best use his athletic prowess on the football field. Work rate, tackling and two-way running have been his strengths from my POV. He is regularly one of the last to leave the track when the players finish training.

8. Elijah Hewett - We learned recently of his battles with chronic sesamoiditis in his feet, but for most of the summer we weren't really sure what was going on with him, other than the fact it was foot-related. Did little bits of training here and there pre-Christmas but nothing really substantial, and was rarely sighted on the track in January. Flew over to Melbourne a few weeks ago to visit Dr Sue Mayes at the Australian Ballet to try and fix his feet issues. Since returning he's been gradually increasing his training load, and at the moment continues to build his straight-line running. No clear return date yet but looks to be progressing well.

9. Harley Reid - The media hype around him over summer has been unlike anything we've ever seen with a draftee, but his work on the track has been pretty impressive. Like all draftees he was eased into an AFL program pre-Christmas and since then has mostly been in full training - aside from a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago where the club managed him out of full training and match sim. Splits his time between the backline and the midfield, and aside from his freakish strength and ability, his aggression at the contest and burst speed have been traits which I've been pleasantly surprised with. Already looks comfortable playing alongside seasoned bodies and loves taking the game on - it doesn't work every time but he has great intent.

10. Tyler Brockman - Took some time to adjust to his new club, but after a few weeks he really started bringing his quality to the track and at the moment is looking great - I'm really bullish as to what he can do this season and in the years to come. Occasionally for whatever reason will runs laps instead of doing full training but on the whole an injury-free preseason. His skill level and pace was apparent pretty early on, but something that's really impressed me recently is his agility and evasiveness through traffic. Splitting his time between the forward line and the midfield at the moment and looks a likely Round 1 starter.


11. Tim Kelly - A fairly standard summer for Kelly - he's done what he needs to and is moving well. Returned to training earlier than required, looked in good shape and was in full training until a minor hamstring strain on Jan 17. Over the next 3-4 weeks he gradually began integrating back in with the main group and match sim, and by now he's back in full training again.

12. Oscar Allen - Looking good. Returned to training in November earlier than required and after a couple of weeks wearing a yellow non-contact hat at training, he was back to full fitness (believe he had a couple of off-season surgeries) and hasn't had any injury setbacks so far. Looks to be thriving in his new role of co-captain - is regularly our leading goalscorer at the end of match sim and kicked 6 in a match sim a couple weeks ago.

13. Noah Long - Has overall had a good summer. Injury-free and looks in good physical nick - probably a bit more developed than he was 12 months ago. Has been training predominantly up forward and is often a busy contributor during match sim. Footy smarts and movement through traffic is impressive.

14. Liam Duggan - Not a heap to note from Duggo's preseason. Came back to training early and in very good shape - finished top 5 in the MAS running test. Has been training mostly in the midfield over the preseason, though spent a fair bit of time in defence during the intraclub.

15. Jamie Cripps - Looking fit and in really good touch - has completed a full preseason to date. His work rate in the forward line is noticeable at training and impressive. Kicked 3 goals in the intraclub on Saturday and often finds himself in open space as a result of his hard running.

16. Luke Edwards - Some encouraging signs from Luke. Outside of a minor hip issue which limited him for about a week in late Jan/early Feb, he's gotten through a full preseason. Has been playing a mix between wing and inside mid and showed some good signs a few weeks ago at stoppages with his evasiveness and ball use. Looks a bit broader through the shoulders than he did last year too. Was in the 'A' team in the intraclub on Feb 17 so he might actually be closer to a Round 1 start than many think - worth noting coaches have generally had a lot of patience for him in the last couple of years.

18. Campbell Chesser - Has been eased through a lot of this preseason as he deals with lingering ankle soreness but physically he returned in very good shape - came runner-up to Ginbey in the 1st-4th year players' MAS running test. Will often have lighter training days where he'll work on skills and touch instead of participating with the main group, but generally hasn't missed the higher-intensity match sim sessions or the intraclub - points to load management rather than any setback. Has been playing both wing and inside mid and has built nicely over recent weeks, showing some good glimpses at stoppages during the intraclub. Generally has been starting on the 'B' team during competitive work but continued growth over the coming weeks could see that change.

19. Brady Hough - Looks to have again put on size over the off-season - he's still pretty slightly built but it doesn't stand out as much anymore. Returned to training in November by spending most of his time away from the main group, but quickly built back into things and by January was in full flight again. Has been training mostly with the backs and now at 192cm, has been playing on taller players (Waterman, Maric) at training as well as the smaller guys. Liking his competitiveness, composure and pace over this preseason. Looks a lock for the Round 1 team if fit.

20. Jeremy McGovern - Doing what he needs to do as a senior player. Is the oldest player on our list now and naturally gets managed through some drills and training sessions, though he looks in good shape. Been really keen to move the ball fast during competitive work, was very impressive in the match sim on Feb 8. Got through preseason unscathed until pulling up from the intraclub on Feb 17 with groin soreness - though early indications are that this is very minor and I wouldn't expect it to limit him for very long.


21. Jack Petruccelle - It's been a strong summer for Petch who looks ready to take another step this year. Was managed a bit through December but since returning from the Christmas break he's been in full training. Looks stronger, skilful, is running to the right places and generally looks a smarter footballer than years gone by. Has primarily been training with the forwards but does sometimes move up the ground and through the midfield during competitive work, and has produced some good line-breaking plays on a few occasions. Looks a likely Round 1 starter.

22. Archer Reid - Hardly got going with preseason training before being placed in a leg brace in early December to fix a pre-existing left knee issue. Did very little training for about a month, but by mid-Jan he had ditched his brace and was starting to get moving again. Over the last month he's mostly just been doing straight-line running. Joined in a full training session on Feb 7 but hasn't been in main training since, so looks like the club is taking it slow with his recovery. Looks a decent size already but still lots of room to fill out his frame. No clear return to play timeframe yet but at a guess, first month of the season seems like what he's on track for.

23. Alex Witherden - Not much to note from Witho's preseason. Hasn't had any injury concerns and hasn't stood out much either, just working away. He's definitely worked on his endurance the last couple of years - finished 5th in the senior players' MAS running test. Not sure if he makes the Round 1 team although he has generally been in the preferred 'A' team during match sim. Takes a lot of kick-outs.

24. Harvey Johnston - Has shown some promising glimpses this preseason without standing out a heap - in fact he's one of the hardest players for me to pick out at training. Has gotten through injury-free thus far, though the club has managed him occasionally - was eased into an AFL program draftee in November/December alongside the draftees, and had a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago alongside Harley where he sat out match sim. Mostly he's been involved in everything though and has been lining up mostly on a wing. Has nice skills and a good side step on him. Still has a bit of size to put on and some more development to go until he's AFL-ready I think but it'll be good to follow how he goes this year in the WAFL.

25. Matt Flynn - Liking what I'm seeing so far. Has been rotating with Bailey Williams during match sim, where Flynn will take the opening centre bounce and the next few after while Williams sits up forward, and then they'll swap for a bit as Flynn plays up forward or rests on the bench. He's a big boy and his ruck work has been sound (albeit against significantly weaker opponents), but what has impressed me the most is his work at ground level. On multiple occasions he's been able to somehow dodge his way through traffic and get a clean disposal out despite his lumbering appearance, which honestly took me by surprise. Has also shown an ability to hit the scoreboard in a few of the match sims over summer. Excited to see how his partnership with Bailey develops this year.

26. Zane Trew - Contractually was still officially unsigned when the 1st-4th year players returned to training, and his early absence from the track in November seemed to suggest he'd been cut, though we later found out this was due to illness. Anyway, by December he was in full training but when he returned from the Christmas break, he wasn't training with the main group due to what was reported as a back issue. He was running well early on so it seemed his absence from full training would be short, but it's now been about a month of him doing the same stuff - a lot of straight-line running away from the main group, with occasionally some change of direction work. No real clarity on when he'll be available to play again, though the silver lining here is that because he's been doing so much running, he's been able to maintain a high level of fitness over his time away and probably won't take long to integrate back with the main group once he's over his injury.

27. Jack Darling - A bit of an interrupted preseason for JD but overall looking in good touch. Was one of the last to return to training in November, but when he did he was straight back into it - though pre-Christmas he wore a bright yellow cap during competitive work which indicated no contact for him. Despite not looking hampered at all this continued well into January, but by early Feb he had ditched the cap and was looking great, kicking 3 goals in the first quarter of match sim on Feb 2. Unfortunately in the same training session he sustained a minor hamstring injury, and since then has been gradually building his way back. Targeting a return for the Adelaide practice match which he looks well and truly on track for.

28. Tom Cole - An uninterrupted preseason for Cole, though with his previous ankle issues he sometimes sits out certain drills or has lighter days on the track. Returned to training in impressive condition, coming 3rd in the MAS running test. Was a standout in match sim on Feb 8 where his rebound and will to take the game on was impressive. Building nicely into the season.

29. Clay Hall - Outside of Harley probably the standout draftee on the track. Eased into training after being drafted with a slight back issue, though by January he was in full training again and beginning to show his quality. His physicality and ball use by hand in congestion is good, but he also has really strong pace and attacking flair which I didn't necessarily expect from him. Has started on the 'A' team in match sim a couple of times so he was really gathering momentum for an early debut before a (fairly minor) ankle injury in the Feb 17 intraclub match grounded him. Still a decent chance to be fit for Round 1 but probably less likely to feature now given his setback. Still look forward to seeing the impact he can make as he builds into this season.

30. Harry Barnett - Has had an injury-free preseason so far. Looks quite well-built although still seems a way off being able to impact at senior level. Hasn't been a standout during match sim work but generally splits his time between the ruck and up forward - often shares the ruck duties with Livingstone, Jamieson and Jack Williams for the 'B' team so a bit less pure ruck time than last year. Hoping to see some decent growth from Harry in the WAFL this year.


31. Jamaine Jones - Has looked outstanding at stages this preseason but has also been hampered by a few niggles. Was up the front of the running groups in Nov/Dec alongside the likes of Ginbey which is generally a good indication of a high level of fitness, though in mid-December he and Ginbey's training loads were wound right back. Still not sure what Jones' issue was, though after the Christmas break he was back in full training again. Was a standout in the match sim on Jan 24 with his run and dash out of defence. On Feb 5 the club reported Jones was dealing with groin soreness, though in the same week as that announcement he played a full game of match sim, so it must have been very minor. Sat out the intraclub on Feb 17 with a minor hip issue, though it seems this isn't a major concern. Hopefully we see him in full flight again soon because I think he's got a lot to offer us when fit.

32. Bailey Williams - A new role for Baz this preseason working up forward and pinch hitting in the ruck as he rotates with Matt Flynn. Outside of a minor knee issue in December, he has completed a full preseason. Still seems to be adjusting to his new fwd/ruck role and I wouldn't expect wonders from him to start off with, but I like his potential in that position. Has taken a few nice pack clunks over preseason but I still think he's had his biggest impact when thrown into the ruck where he's really dominated against lesser opponents. As has been discussed on here, I reckon he could become one of the better second rucks around the league in terms of ability to impact in the ruck in bursts.

33. Rhett Bazzo - Has been managed through a lot of preseason but generally has taken part in the match sim work. Hasn't really stood out to me during the competitive stuff, though it looks like he's put on a lot of size over the off-season. Didn't participate in the intraclub due to groin soreness and will be on light duties for the next few weeks as he's deloaded and then rebuilds again. I'm thinking we'll have to show some patience with Bazzo this year but hopefully he surprises me.

34. Jack Williams - An uninterrupted though fairly quiet preseason for Jack. Looks a bit bigger than last year but hasn't really stood out to me much during match sim and competitive work. Generally starting on the 'B' team - seems to be a little way behind Maric and Waterman in the battle for a tall forward spot at AFL level. Playing mainly forward with occasional stints in the ruck.

35. Josh Rotham - Hasn't really got going thus far. Was eased into training pre-Christmas and wore a bright green no-contact cap for a few weeks, but was back in full training by the time the squad broke off for their break. Upon his return in January he didn't last very long before developing groin soreness and having his training shut down completely for a couple of weeks. From early Feb he has been gradually increasing his training loads and looks close to re-joining full training. According to the club he's pushing to be available for the Adelaide practice game.

36. Loch Rawlinson - An injury-free first preseason for Rawlinson and he's showed some encouraging glimpses over summer. Like all draftees was eased into full training pre-Christmas but he eventually began training with the forwards. Is fairly well-built for his age and looks a crafty player - has produced a couple of moments this preseason (goals from the pocket, selling candy) which have shown there might be something there to work with. Not a huge ball-winner during match sim and it appears will start in the WAFL, but again there have been encouraging signs and it'll be interesting to see how he goes in the 2s this year.

37. Tom Barrass - Doing what he has to do, building nicely. Occasionally sits out some drills but for the most part has completed a full preseason. Certainly hasn't shown any indication of his back injury - was one of our best performers during the match sim on Feb 8 where he marked everything that came his way.

38. Jordyn Baker - Another one to return to training in November officially out of contract, though his extension was announced a couple weeks later. Has had a few minor interruptions through Jan and early Feb which kept him on lighter duties and sometimes sitting out of match sim, but at the moment appears to be in full training. Has been training with the backs and looks to have added some size since last year. Has some skillsTM and could push for a selection later in the season, but will probably be in the WAFL to start.

39. Coen Livingstone - Still a pretty raw talent, but I like his aggression and competitiveness. Has been injury-free this preseason although I've noticed he always wears strapping on his left knee. During match sim he seems to start in the ruck but also spends a fair bit of time forward when Barnett/Jamieson/JWilliams go into the ruck. Have noticed he'll often separate from the main group to work on set shots, sometimes alongside Chance Bateman. Doubt we see him at AFL level this year but hoping he adjusts well to senior WAFL level.

40. Callum Jamieson - Had a delayed start to preseason in Nov/Dec and appeared to be on a unique program - we later learned this was due to groin soreness. Was doing some unusual training pre-Christmas, often doing exercises barefoot and just watching on for many training sessions. Fortunately after the Christmas break he looked back on track, and by now is back to full training - though he still occasionally gets managed through some drills. Spent a lot of time recently training up forward and showed some good competitiveness in match sim, though with Harry Edwards and Bazzo going down with injury in the past week, he was trialled as a key back at training on Feb 21. Reckon we might see him deployed there on Saturday against Fremantle with Gov also under an injury cloud.


41. Ryan Maric - Has built really nicely into this preseason and is flying at the moment. Hasn't missed a beat injury-wise and looks a bit bigger than last season. Has still retained his speed and agility (which by the way is pretty impressive for his height) despite his added weight. As the competitive work has ramped up over the last few weeks Maric has really lifted - been regularly kicking multiple goals in match sim and gets himself involved in a lot of other scoring passages where his footy smarts come to the fore. As I've mentioned he seems to be locked in a battle with Waterman for the final tall forward spot in the side, and though both are in good touch, I've probably got Maric just ahead at the moment. A month ago I would've said Waterman though so it can easily change again. It's unclear the way the club sees it - both have spent time on both the 'A' and 'B' teams in match sim. Great to have some proper selection pressure up forward, may it continue.

42. Harry Edwards - I'm bullish on Harry's potential but the poor guy just can't get a clean run at it. Was on a separate program pre-Christmas as he shook off the last of his 2023 groin concerns, but by the new year he was back into full training. Through Jan and early Feb he looked to be building nicely with competitive performances down back - he looked an imposing size and was taking some nice intercept marks and defending well. Just as he was getting into a nice groove though Harry broke his finger during the intraclub which will see him undergo surgery and miss at least the next few weeks.

43. Tyrell Dewar - A really encouraging preseason so far. Coming off a pretty low base he's done a lot to impress with a good run at it with his body. Firstly in his return to training last year he looked to have added some size and was at the front of the running groups alongside Jones and Ginbey, so it seemed physically he'd come back in great shape. Football-wise he's shown real class in his field kicking and also up forward - has hit the scoreboard on a few occasions over summer. Still has to work on consistency but he's shown clear growth in the last 12 months and I look forward to seeing if he can start pressing his case for AFL selection this year.

45. Coby Burgiel - Honestly can't say he's stood out much to me, but he did have a minor hamstring setback in mid-Jan which would've been frustrating for him. He's well and truly back into full training now though. Has trained with the backs over preseason and is a skilful player, looks a good size now too. Doesn't appear to be in the frame for Round 1 selection, but if he can string together strong WAFL form like he threatened to last year, I could easily see him make his debut at some point.

49. Jai Culley - Making great progress in his recovery from his ACL last year. Was already doing agility and change-of-direction work pre-Christmas and has since been steadily increasing his training loads to now, where he's been doing absolutely everything (and then some) except contact/competitive work. At least, that was until this Wednesday when he joined in for a bit of match sim for the first time since his injury last year. He'll now continue to build that and at a guess is probably looking at a return to football within the first month of the season. The way he's been attacking his rehab over summer has been admirable and a testament to his impressive work ethic.




Some others who have made appearances at training this preseason:
  • Trey Ruscoe - A new WAFL Eagles signing, crossing over from Collingwood. Has been participating in 1-2 sessions a week since late November. Has been playing in a key defensive role, though went forward once during match sim and kicked 3 goals in a quarter. Seems to provide great energy to the group and looks like a good WAFL signing.
  • Jason Gillbee - The milk man from GWS has come across and joined the WAFL Eagles for this season. Has been doing the same amount of training as Ruscoe and will usually line up on the wing - is a very good runner. Seems like a pretty unique character and from what I can tell he's gotten pretty close with Harley, Longy, Bazzo and some of the other younger boys off the field which is always good.
  • Bailey Banfield - The son of Drew, Bailey is part of our 2nd Generation Academy and generally attended the lighter mid-week training sessions from mid-December through to the end of Jan. Was eligible for the 2023 draft but missed out. Trained with the mids across his time and looked pretty well-built although fairly short. Didn't look too out of place.
  • Malakai Champion - A highly rated prospect from our NGA who will likely be taken at this year's draft. Is short and slightly built but is very quick and has great skills. Trained at the same time as Banfield did.
  • Tore Nelson - Also part of our NGA. Trained with us a little less than Banfield and Champion but when he was out there was training with the backs. Looks a medium size with pretty good skills, not sure where he sits in terms of the draft though
  • Anthony Hansen - Saw him at one training session in late Jan, also from our NGA. Small and slightly built, didn't pay close attention to him.
  • A number of other WAFL Eagles have made appearances, mainly to make up numbers during match sims - new signings in James Spadanuda (what a name), Luke Yeo (cousin of Elliot), Harley Sparks; and continuing WAFL Eagles including Darby McCarthy, Jack Eastough, Ethan Hansen and Shannon Lucassen.

This is bloody excellent, thanks a heap for all your time over the preseason (Keys and others as well) - awesome reading for the rest of us plebs too lazy to get down there!
 
Okay, so with our first competitive hitout against proper opposition getting underway this Saturday against Fremantle, I thought it would be a good idea to review how each player's preseason has gone thus far.

Having watched a lot of training sessions over summer, this is how I've seen things player by player:

(Disclaimer: this is a VERY long post and one I've been typing up across a few days now. Nobody should read it all (unless you're really interested of course) but feel free to skip to any players you're interested in to see how they've gone.

I've put it in spoiler chunks so it doesn't take up your whole page if you're not interested. Also note that this is just one nuffy's point of view - though I've tried to be fairly objective in my write-ups.

Does any of this mean much when the real stuff starts? Debatable. But I've watched training a lot over summer so figured I may as well collate what I've seen into one post).



1. Liam Ryan - Returned to training in November before senior players were required back and after two hamstring surgeries last year, he began by working away from the main group. Looked in reasonable physical shape, though after such a long time without properly running his fitness base definitely needed work. Nevertheless as December wore on he did more and more with the main group and by the time players returned in January he was nearly back in full training. Didn't last very long though before injuring his other hamstring tendon at training on Jan 15 and undergoing surgery. Was reported that he'd miss 10-12 weeks and it seems he's well on track with that timeline. Started running again in early Feb and is currently still building his running loads - appears on track to return in the first month of the season. Does a lot of his rehab work with our indigenous liason officer Chance Bateman.

2. Jake Waterman - One of the more impressive preseasons among the squad. A lot of uncertainty around the physical condition he'd come back in after being ravaged by ulcerative colitis last year, but he surprised everyone by not only returning (before he was required) in full training but winning the senior players' MAS running test in November. Had a great period pre-Christmas and hasn't had any setbacks throughout the summer. His work rate is a real highlight during match play, though appears to be battling it out with Ryan Maric at the moment for the final tall forward spot in the Round 1 team.

3. Andrew Gaff - An uninterrupted summer for Gaffy and came second to Waterman in the MAS running test - an impressive result which we've come to expect from him. Returned to training in November earlier than required. Football-wise he's been lining up exclusively on the wing and his performances during match play have been mixed - busy some days, quiet on others. Caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago when left out of the 'A' team during match sim, though since then he's often been included in the probables team. Simmo says the wing spot is up for grabs so it's unclear whether he'll start Round 1 - my guess is that we'll give him first crack at the wing spot, but it depends a bit on the form of Chesser over the next few weeks.

4. Dom Sheed - Was in full training up to Dec 5 when he pulled up with a hotspot in his foot and was placed in a moon boot. To me it seems we're taking a more conservative approach this time around with him, because he didn't do any real training of note until early Feb when he started running and work on the grandstand stairs. At this stage he's still building back his straight-line running and looks a fair way off re-joining the main group.

5. Jayden Hunt - A very good summer from this guy. Eased back into a full training load in November after returning a week earlier than required and hasn't had any injury interruptions so far. During match sim and other drills there seems to be a real emphasis to get the ball into his hands - and his run and carry has been elite so far.

6. Elliot Yeo - Visited Qatar in the off-season to try get on top of his soft tissue issues, and whether it's as a result of his trip or not, he seems to be on a slightly different program to everyone this preseason. Often warms up with a trainer separate from the main group, occasionally sit out drills to do separate running or work on the grandstand stairs. When he is out there he's been playing exclusively midfield and looks very good - powerful, strong, dynamic. Other than a minor ankle tweak in November (which generated a lot of media panic) he hasn't been troubled by injuries so far. Fingers crossed that unlike last year, this continues when the real stuff starts.

7. Reuben Ginbey - An incredible athlete with the work ethic to match. Put on significant size over the break and has maintained - if not improved - his strong aerobic capacity in the meantime. Took out the MAS running test the 1st-4th year players did, and from what I've heard would've beat Waterman and all the senior players if he had taken part in their test. His top speed is also among the best at the club - he covers the ground extremely well. Was flying until mid-December when his training loads got wound right back - I'm assuming this was due to the groin soreness that was later reported on in January. After the Christmas break he began building again, and through Jan and early Feb he began integrating back into full training and match sim. At the moment he seems to be flying again. Football-wise I would probably temper expectations on Ginbey in his second season, still seems to be figuring out how to best use his athletic prowess on the football field. Work rate, tackling and two-way running have been his strengths from my POV. He is regularly one of the last to leave the track when the players finish training.

8. Elijah Hewett - We learned recently of his battles with chronic sesamoiditis in his feet, but for most of the summer we weren't really sure what was going on with him, other than the fact it was foot-related. Did little bits of training here and there pre-Christmas but nothing really substantial, and was rarely sighted on the track in January. Flew over to Melbourne a few weeks ago to visit Dr Sue Mayes at the Australian Ballet to try and fix his feet issues. Since returning he's been gradually increasing his training load, and at the moment continues to build his straight-line running. No clear return date yet but looks to be progressing well.

9. Harley Reid - The media hype around him over summer has been unlike anything we've ever seen with a draftee, but his work on the track has been pretty impressive. Like all draftees he was eased into an AFL program pre-Christmas and since then has mostly been in full training - aside from a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago where the club managed him out of full training and match sim. Splits his time between the backline and the midfield, and aside from his freakish strength and ability, his aggression at the contest and burst speed have been traits which I've been pleasantly surprised with. Already looks comfortable playing alongside seasoned bodies and loves taking the game on - it doesn't work every time but he has great intent.

10. Tyler Brockman - Took some time to adjust to his new club, but after a few weeks he really started bringing his quality to the track and at the moment is looking great - I'm really bullish as to what he can do this season and in the years to come. Occasionally for whatever reason will runs laps instead of doing full training but on the whole an injury-free preseason. His skill level and pace was apparent pretty early on, but something that's really impressed me recently is his agility and evasiveness through traffic. Splitting his time between the forward line and the midfield at the moment and looks a likely Round 1 starter.


11. Tim Kelly - A fairly standard summer for Kelly - he's done what he needs to and is moving well. Returned to training earlier than required, looked in good shape and was in full training until a minor hamstring strain on Jan 17. Over the next 3-4 weeks he gradually began integrating back in with the main group and match sim, and by now he's back in full training again.

12. Oscar Allen - Looking good. Returned to training in November earlier than required and after a couple of weeks wearing a yellow non-contact hat at training, he was back to full fitness (believe he had a couple of off-season surgeries) and hasn't had any injury setbacks so far. Looks to be thriving in his new role of co-captain - is regularly our leading goalscorer at the end of match sim and kicked 6 in a match sim a couple weeks ago.

13. Noah Long - Has overall had a good summer. Injury-free and looks in good physical nick - probably a bit more developed than he was 12 months ago. Has been training predominantly up forward and is often a busy contributor during match sim. Footy smarts and movement through traffic is impressive.

14. Liam Duggan - Not a heap to note from Duggo's preseason. Came back to training early and in very good shape - finished top 5 in the MAS running test. Has been training mostly in the midfield over the preseason, though spent a fair bit of time in defence during the intraclub.

15. Jamie Cripps - Looking fit and in really good touch - has completed a full preseason to date. His work rate in the forward line is noticeable at training and impressive. Kicked 3 goals in the intraclub on Saturday and often finds himself in open space as a result of his hard running.

16. Luke Edwards - Some encouraging signs from Luke. Outside of a minor hip issue which limited him for about a week in late Jan/early Feb, he's gotten through a full preseason. Has been playing a mix between wing and inside mid and showed some good signs a few weeks ago at stoppages with his evasiveness and ball use. Looks a bit broader through the shoulders than he did last year too. Was in the 'A' team in the intraclub on Feb 17 so he might actually be closer to a Round 1 start than many think - worth noting coaches have generally had a lot of patience for him in the last couple of years.

18. Campbell Chesser - Has been eased through a lot of this preseason as he deals with lingering ankle soreness but physically he returned in very good shape - came runner-up to Ginbey in the 1st-4th year players' MAS running test. Will often have lighter training days where he'll work on skills and touch instead of participating with the main group, but generally hasn't missed the higher-intensity match sim sessions or the intraclub - points to load management rather than any setback. Has been playing both wing and inside mid and has built nicely over recent weeks, showing some good glimpses at stoppages during the intraclub. Generally has been starting on the 'B' team during competitive work but continued growth over the coming weeks could see that change.

19. Brady Hough - Looks to have again put on size over the off-season - he's still pretty slightly built but it doesn't stand out as much anymore. Returned to training in November by spending most of his time away from the main group, but quickly built back into things and by January was in full flight again. Has been training mostly with the backs and now at 192cm, has been playing on taller players (Waterman, Maric) at training as well as the smaller guys. Liking his competitiveness, composure and pace over this preseason. Looks a lock for the Round 1 team if fit.

20. Jeremy McGovern - Doing what he needs to do as a senior player. Is the oldest player on our list now and naturally gets managed through some drills and training sessions, though he looks in good shape. Been really keen to move the ball fast during competitive work, was very impressive in the match sim on Feb 8. Got through preseason unscathed until pulling up from the intraclub on Feb 17 with groin soreness - though early indications are that this is very minor and I wouldn't expect it to limit him for very long.


21. Jack Petruccelle - It's been a strong summer for Petch who looks ready to take another step this year. Was managed a bit through December but since returning from the Christmas break he's been in full training. Looks stronger, skilful, is running to the right places and generally looks a smarter footballer than years gone by. Has primarily been training with the forwards but does sometimes move up the ground and through the midfield during competitive work, and has produced some good line-breaking plays on a few occasions. Looks a likely Round 1 starter.

22. Archer Reid - Hardly got going with preseason training before being placed in a leg brace in early December to fix a pre-existing left knee issue. Did very little training for about a month, but by mid-Jan he had ditched his brace and was starting to get moving again. Over the last month he's mostly just been doing straight-line running. Joined in a full training session on Feb 7 but hasn't been in main training since, so looks like the club is taking it slow with his recovery. Looks a decent size already but still lots of room to fill out his frame. No clear return to play timeframe yet but at a guess, first month of the season seems like what he's on track for.

23. Alex Witherden - Not much to note from Witho's preseason. Hasn't had any injury concerns and hasn't stood out much either, just working away. He's definitely worked on his endurance the last couple of years - finished 5th in the senior players' MAS running test. Not sure if he makes the Round 1 team although he has generally been in the preferred 'A' team during match sim. Takes a lot of kick-outs.

24. Harvey Johnston - Has shown some promising glimpses this preseason without standing out a heap - in fact he's one of the hardest players for me to pick out at training. Has gotten through injury-free thus far, though the club has managed him occasionally - was eased into an AFL program draftee in November/December alongside the draftees, and had a light week on the track a couple of weeks ago alongside Harley where he sat out match sim. Mostly he's been involved in everything though and has been lining up mostly on a wing. Has nice skills and a good side step on him. Still has a bit of size to put on and some more development to go until he's AFL-ready I think but it'll be good to follow how he goes this year in the WAFL.

25. Matt Flynn - Liking what I'm seeing so far. Has been rotating with Bailey Williams during match sim, where Flynn will take the opening centre bounce and the next few after while Williams sits up forward, and then they'll swap for a bit as Flynn plays up forward or rests on the bench. He's a big boy and his ruck work has been sound (albeit against significantly weaker opponents), but what has impressed me the most is his work at ground level. On multiple occasions he's been able to somehow dodge his way through traffic and get a clean disposal out despite his lumbering appearance, which honestly took me by surprise. Has also shown an ability to hit the scoreboard in a few of the match sims over summer. Excited to see how his partnership with Bailey develops this year.

26. Zane Trew - Contractually was still officially unsigned when the 1st-4th year players returned to training, and his early absence from the track in November seemed to suggest he'd been cut, though we later found out this was due to illness. Anyway, by December he was in full training but when he returned from the Christmas break, he wasn't training with the main group due to what was reported as a back issue. He was running well early on so it seemed his absence from full training would be short, but it's now been about a month of him doing the same stuff - a lot of straight-line running away from the main group, with occasionally some change of direction work. No real clarity on when he'll be available to play again, though the silver lining here is that because he's been doing so much running, he's been able to maintain a high level of fitness over his time away and probably won't take long to integrate back with the main group once he's over his injury.

27. Jack Darling - A bit of an interrupted preseason for JD but overall looking in good touch. Was one of the last to return to training in November, but when he did he was straight back into it - though pre-Christmas he wore a bright yellow cap during competitive work which indicated no contact for him. Despite not looking hampered at all this continued well into January, but by early Feb he had ditched the cap and was looking great, kicking 3 goals in the first quarter of match sim on Feb 2. Unfortunately in the same training session he sustained a minor hamstring injury, and since then has been gradually building his way back. Targeting a return for the Adelaide practice match which he looks well and truly on track for.

28. Tom Cole - An uninterrupted preseason for Cole, though with his previous ankle issues he sometimes sits out certain drills or has lighter days on the track. Returned to training in impressive condition, coming 3rd in the MAS running test. Was a standout in match sim on Feb 8 where his rebound and will to take the game on was impressive. Building nicely into the season.

29. Clay Hall - Outside of Harley probably the standout draftee on the track. Eased into training after being drafted with a slight back issue, though by January he was in full training again and beginning to show his quality. His physicality and ball use by hand in congestion is good, but he also has really strong pace and attacking flair which I didn't necessarily expect from him. Has started on the 'A' team in match sim a couple of times so he was really gathering momentum for an early debut before a (fairly minor) ankle injury in the Feb 17 intraclub match grounded him. Still a decent chance to be fit for Round 1 but probably less likely to feature now given his setback. Still look forward to seeing the impact he can make as he builds into this season.

30. Harry Barnett - Has had an injury-free preseason so far. Looks quite well-built although still seems a way off being able to impact at senior level. Hasn't been a standout during match sim work but generally splits his time between the ruck and up forward - often shares the ruck duties with Livingstone, Jamieson and Jack Williams for the 'B' team so a bit less pure ruck time than last year. Hoping to see some decent growth from Harry in the WAFL this year.


31. Jamaine Jones - Has looked outstanding at stages this preseason but has also been hampered by a few niggles. Was up the front of the running groups in Nov/Dec alongside the likes of Ginbey which is generally a good indication of a high level of fitness, though in mid-December he and Ginbey's training loads were wound right back. Still not sure what Jones' issue was, though after the Christmas break he was back in full training again. Was a standout in the match sim on Jan 24 with his run and dash out of defence. On Feb 5 the club reported Jones was dealing with groin soreness, though in the same week as that announcement he played a full game of match sim, so it must have been very minor. Sat out the intraclub on Feb 17 with a minor hip issue, though it seems this isn't a major concern. Hopefully we see him in full flight again soon because I think he's got a lot to offer us when fit.

32. Bailey Williams - A new role for Baz this preseason working up forward and pinch hitting in the ruck as he rotates with Matt Flynn. Outside of a minor knee issue in December, he has completed a full preseason. Still seems to be adjusting to his new fwd/ruck role and I wouldn't expect wonders from him to start off with, but I like his potential in that position. Has taken a few nice pack clunks over preseason but I still think he's had his biggest impact when thrown into the ruck where he's really dominated against lesser opponents. As has been discussed on here, I reckon he could become one of the better second rucks around the league in terms of ability to impact in the ruck in bursts.

33. Rhett Bazzo - Has been managed through a lot of preseason but generally has taken part in the match sim work. Hasn't really stood out to me during the competitive stuff, though it looks like he's put on a lot of size over the off-season. Didn't participate in the intraclub due to groin soreness and will be on light duties for the next few weeks as he's deloaded and then rebuilds again. I'm thinking we'll have to show some patience with Bazzo this year but hopefully he surprises me.

34. Jack Williams - An uninterrupted though fairly quiet preseason for Jack. Looks a bit bigger than last year but hasn't really stood out to me much during match sim and competitive work. Generally starting on the 'B' team - seems to be a little way behind Maric and Waterman in the battle for a tall forward spot at AFL level. Playing mainly forward with occasional stints in the ruck.

35. Josh Rotham - Hasn't really got going thus far. Was eased into training pre-Christmas and wore a bright green no-contact cap for a few weeks, but was back in full training by the time the squad broke off for their break. Upon his return in January he didn't last very long before developing groin soreness and having his training shut down completely for a couple of weeks. From early Feb he has been gradually increasing his training loads and looks close to re-joining full training. According to the club he's pushing to be available for the Adelaide practice game.

36. Loch Rawlinson - An injury-free first preseason for Rawlinson and he's showed some encouraging glimpses over summer. Like all draftees was eased into full training pre-Christmas but he eventually began training with the forwards. Is fairly well-built for his age and looks a crafty player - has produced a couple of moments this preseason (goals from the pocket, selling candy) which have shown there might be something there to work with. Not a huge ball-winner during match sim and it appears will start in the WAFL, but again there have been encouraging signs and it'll be interesting to see how he goes in the 2s this year.

37. Tom Barrass - Doing what he has to do, building nicely. Occasionally sits out some drills but for the most part has completed a full preseason. Certainly hasn't shown any indication of his back injury - was one of our best performers during the match sim on Feb 8 where he marked everything that came his way.

38. Jordyn Baker - Another one to return to training in November officially out of contract, though his extension was announced a couple weeks later. Has had a few minor interruptions through Jan and early Feb which kept him on lighter duties and sometimes sitting out of match sim, but at the moment appears to be in full training. Has been training with the backs and looks to have added some size since last year. Has some skillsTM and could push for a selection later in the season, but will probably be in the WAFL to start.

39. Coen Livingstone - Still a pretty raw talent, but I like his aggression and competitiveness. Has been injury-free this preseason although I've noticed he always wears strapping on his left knee. During match sim he seems to start in the ruck but also spends a fair bit of time forward when Barnett/Jamieson/JWilliams go into the ruck. Have noticed he'll often separate from the main group to work on set shots, sometimes alongside Chance Bateman. Doubt we see him at AFL level this year but hoping he adjusts well to senior WAFL level.

40. Callum Jamieson - Had a delayed start to preseason in Nov/Dec and appeared to be on a unique program - we later learned this was due to groin soreness. Was doing some unusual training pre-Christmas, often doing exercises barefoot and just watching on for many training sessions. Fortunately after the Christmas break he looked back on track, and by now is back to full training - though he still occasionally gets managed through some drills. Spent a lot of time recently training up forward and showed some good competitiveness in match sim, though with Harry Edwards and Bazzo going down with injury in the past week, he was trialled as a key back at training on Feb 21. Reckon we might see him deployed there on Saturday against Fremantle with Gov also under an injury cloud.


41. Ryan Maric - Has built really nicely into this preseason and is flying at the moment. Hasn't missed a beat injury-wise and looks a bit bigger than last season. Has still retained his speed and agility (which by the way is pretty impressive for his height) despite his added weight. As the competitive work has ramped up over the last few weeks Maric has really lifted - been regularly kicking multiple goals in match sim and gets himself involved in a lot of other scoring passages where his footy smarts come to the fore. As I've mentioned he seems to be locked in a battle with Waterman for the final tall forward spot in the side, and though both are in good touch, I've probably got Maric just ahead at the moment. A month ago I would've said Waterman though so it can easily change again. It's unclear the way the club sees it - both have spent time on both the 'A' and 'B' teams in match sim. Great to have some proper selection pressure up forward, may it continue.

42. Harry Edwards - I'm bullish on Harry's potential but the poor guy just can't get a clean run at it. Was on a separate program pre-Christmas as he shook off the last of his 2023 groin concerns, but by the new year he was back into full training. Through Jan and early Feb he looked to be building nicely with competitive performances down back - he looked an imposing size and was taking some nice intercept marks and defending well. Just as he was getting into a nice groove though Harry broke his finger during the intraclub which will see him undergo surgery and miss at least the next few weeks.

43. Tyrell Dewar - A really encouraging preseason so far. Coming off a pretty low base he's done a lot to impress with a good run at it with his body. Firstly in his return to training last year he looked to have added some size and was at the front of the running groups alongside Jones and Ginbey, so it seemed physically he'd come back in great shape. Football-wise he's shown real class in his field kicking and also up forward - has hit the scoreboard on a few occasions over summer. Still has to work on consistency but he's shown clear growth in the last 12 months and I look forward to seeing if he can start pressing his case for AFL selection this year.

45. Coby Burgiel - Honestly can't say he's stood out much to me, but he did have a minor hamstring setback in mid-Jan which would've been frustrating for him. He's well and truly back into full training now though. Has trained with the backs over preseason and is a skilful player, looks a good size now too. Doesn't appear to be in the frame for Round 1 selection, but if he can string together strong WAFL form like he threatened to last year, I could easily see him make his debut at some point.

49. Jai Culley - Making great progress in his recovery from his ACL last year. Was already doing agility and change-of-direction work pre-Christmas and has since been steadily increasing his training loads to now, where he's been doing absolutely everything (and then some) except contact/competitive work. At least, that was until this Wednesday when he joined in for a bit of match sim for the first time since his injury last year. He'll now continue to build that and at a guess is probably looking at a return to football within the first month of the season. The way he's been attacking his rehab over summer has been admirable and a testament to his impressive work ethic.




Some others who have made appearances at training this preseason:
  • Trey Ruscoe - A new WAFL Eagles signing, crossing over from Collingwood. Has been participating in 1-2 sessions a week since late November. Has been playing in a key defensive role, though went forward once during match sim and kicked 3 goals in a quarter. Seems to provide great energy to the group and looks like a good WAFL signing.
  • Jason Gillbee - The milk man from GWS has come across and joined the WAFL Eagles for this season. Has been doing the same amount of training as Ruscoe and will usually line up on the wing - is a very good runner. Seems like a pretty unique character and from what I can tell he's gotten pretty close with Harley, Longy, Bazzo and some of the other younger boys off the field which is always good.
  • Bailey Banfield - The son of Drew, Bailey is part of our 2nd Generation Academy and generally attended the lighter mid-week training sessions from mid-December through to the end of Jan. Was eligible for the 2023 draft but missed out. Trained with the mids across his time and looked pretty well-built although fairly short. Didn't look too out of place.
  • Malakai Champion - A highly rated prospect from our NGA who will likely be taken at this year's draft. Is short and slightly built but is very quick and has great skills. Trained at the same time as Banfield did.
  • Tore Nelson - Also part of our NGA. Trained with us a little less than Banfield and Champion but when he was out there was training with the backs. Looks a medium size with pretty good skills, not sure where he sits in terms of the draft though
  • Anthony Hansen - Saw him at one training session in late Jan, also from our NGA. Small and slightly built, didn't pay close attention to him.
  • A number of other WAFL Eagles have made appearances, mainly to make up numbers during match sims - new signings in James Spadanuda (what a name), Luke Yeo (cousin of Elliot), Harley Sparks; and continuing WAFL Eagles including Darby McCarthy, Jack Eastough, Ethan Hansen and Shannon Lucassen.
Great write up, thanks mate.

Lot of positives to take out of it and cause for some optimism.

Unfortunately the phrase "groin soreness" appears far too much. Hopefully it's just some light strains but feels a bit worrying. Groins can be a symptom of overloading but let's hope its just me being paranoid.
 
Great write up, thanks mate.

Lot of positives to take out of it and cause for some optimism.

Unfortunately the phrase "groin soreness" appears far too much. Hopefully it's just some light strains but feels a bit worrying. Groins can be a symptom of overloading but let's hope its just me being paranoid.
Yeah it's been popping up a fair bit... Reuben Ginbey, Jeremy McGovern, Jamaine Jones, Rhett Bazzo, Josh Rotham and Callum Jamieson have all fallen victim to it in the last few months
 
Groins popping up actually isn't that surprising.
We have stated we are pushing the guys harder than ever in a bid to catch up to the comp so it's not surprising that they are flaring but every time they do those players are de-loaded and backed off for recovery. none of them have missed an extensive period.

I'd be more concerned if they all missed multiple months from groins rather than a de-load for a couple weeks then back into training.
 
Larry Shrug GIF by Curb Your Enthusiasm

My feelings for this year in Gif form.
 

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Well Tom Cole hasn't got any more composed under pressure has he?
 
I think the 'wank words' you're talking about in an awareness sense mean a lot more to supporters of many/all demographics than they may do to yourself - but as a concrete example the fact that they beat us in their pitch to get a women's team in the league first is a definite loss for us, given we've been more successful financially and results-wise in our men's side. And think that those that have also followed the AFLW semi-closely would agree up to this year their program in that front has been run a lot more sharply than ours. It's something I'm pretty invested in and an area I'm keen to see WC overtake them in.

Think with the Daisy stuff amongst other things we've shown a lot of signs of better focus in that area - but if you want an example relevant to just the mens, their club media/training reports and transparency to their fans has been better than ours the last few years and reflects the more open way their board tends to engage with their members - another area we do thankfully seem to be stepping up in this year.

Regarding the self-aware bit specifically, of course they're going to say stuff about winning expectations, what else are you going to sell to members? We'll likely be celebrating if we make it out of the bottom 4 this year but for most other clubs, they'd be saying the same thing as Freo. But one of their board members also did make a joke in one of their speeches about being more successful than Gold Coast which, I dunno, that's funny, self-aware and I rate it. Kind of like GWS' social media presence - think it's fun to have a bit of a laugh at yourselves, if we did more of that but also continued to be more successful on-field as a club I'd take it.

I said in my original post that results still come first, and they do, but * it I want to be better than the purples at everything - I want better merch, more supporters in Bhutan, I want us to play the first game on Mars, the lot of it ;). Yeah we've been more successful but I'd still like to be pushing to learn from and exceed the strengths of Freo and all the other clubs.

*Apologies thread-wise this probably isn't a super pre-season training line of argument, just thought worth a reply
Excellent response. You have great meta- cognition, but you can't influence my thinking. Not sure your decision to be in bed with two teams is correct. You are either with us or against us. Love your self confidence. When Fremantle supporters have no assumptions or biases about drug taking at West Coast we can talk about them being self aware. As I stated previously wank word champ.
 





Darling, McGovern and perhaps Rotham looking a chance to play this weekend

Hough and Reid both trained ok

Sheed increasing his training loads

Brockman restricted to warmup and running laps on the outside oval
 

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