In a word: focused.
First of all, a warm Happy New Year to everyone in Carlton land. We hope all of you are safe from the blazes that ravage our country.
Bad news first: Marc Murphy went down with an ankle injury during the match simulation. It took him a while to get up and the drinks cart took him off the gorund to the trainers, then to the rooms. He was walking gingerly on it when he was with the trainers. Fox Footy has reported that Marc has gone for scans to see the extent of the damage. I am not getting too worried just yet – its an ankle, not a knee. The fact that he could walk at least gingerly on it shows positive signs – I am thinking that the ultra conservative approach has been taken to cart him off and send hm for scans.
Now onto the brighter stuff. The boys obviously didnt scoff down too much turkey over the break and have come back in ripping condition. You can see even with 66 days, 7 hours and 55 minutes, 56 seconds (see our new countdown on carltonlive.com) until round one, that the boys are really focused on it. Picking a best 22 was a nightmare after the draft period, it is going to get worse (better?) as 44 guys push their case for selection.
Sam Philp (Philfy – as he is known) is a perfect example of how far our list has come. 2-3 years ago, you would have almost locked him into round one at this stage of proceedings. Although a first year player, he has a physical and mental maturity to mix it. His break away speed out of packs is breathtaking. He gets inside and gets his own ball, he works his ass off to get to the outside. He gets space, his decision making and ball use are composed – for a first year player. He will get better, quickly. I took particular note today that it appeared that he had been “promoted” to do a lot more senior work.
In years gone by (eg Paddy Dow) we couldn’t wait to get our new players out and about on the big stage. Now there is so much competition for spots, Philp will have to leapfrog quite a few and push his case right up until selection day. Even then, he may be given a run in the Northern Blues first up.
Drills: this photo highlights one of the most impressive drills of the day. The orange/black cafe flags outline a forward corridor in front of goals. The leading player would run into that zone. On the wing, the ball was fed out to a player running past who was told to kick it after two steps. Pressure was put onto the kicker. They then had to deliver the ball to the front section of the forward zone and let the leading player run onto it.
Dow started proceedings off with an absolute bullet that would leave any forward salivating. His kicking for the full session today was streets ahead of where he has been. He still seemed to lack a touch of confidence on a couple of tries, but he nailed them anyway.
Samo, Willo and Newnes were the others that really caught my eye in this drill.
On the other wing there was another group training handball out of and tackling in congestion. This drill has been a staple so far this preseason. Tackling wise, the players were being coached to wait until the opposing player touches the ball, then pounce and bring them to ground – either gaining the free or killing the contest. A mention of Polson here who demonstrated amazing speed and agility to work his way out of the contested situation. He showed some of the poise and dash that impressed me early on in his VFL stint.
A third group over the far pocket was training kicks from out of back pocket. Each of the three groups rotated through the three drills.
The next drill was equally as impressive as the front corridor kicking. It simulated a mark on the wing followed by a quick, long kick pinpointing a target. The coach on the mark fed the ball to the player who had 5 seconds to run back to where they were going to start their run up, kick the ball between two cones approx 10m apart, about 50m away to a marking player. It was a competition between all of the players to see who could kick the longest. Willo was kicking the ball beautifully, closely followed by JSOS and Doc.
Running: no real surprises that Obrien, Ed Curnow and Cotterell were leading the way, but so too was Doc. Throughout the day, he was just gliding gracefully across the surface. I was chatting to a lovely lady named Cathy at the time and I contructed the simile of him being a “panther.”
Match Simulation: really difficult to find stand outs – everyone was focused. Here are the notes of what impressed me:
- Philp turn of speed
- Cuners roving off Kreuzer
- Betts crumbing work, clean
- Kennedy working inside, pushing forward
- Setterfield balanced and composed
- Stocker took out Dow in a tough but fair tackle
- Jack Martin elite by foot but tends to lean off the ball when going for distance
- Fisher playing forward flank. Elite ball use.
- Eddie Betts coaching the forward players in the break
- Pittonet kicking style a little unorthodox, needs work
- Pittonet and Kreuze doing most of the ruck work.
- TDK playing forward
- Marchbank working mainly on fitness. Did some overhead marking drills – looked unhindered
- Harry back running, so to McGovern and Kemp
- Kemp has body size to go round one if he was fit
- Cuners was jumped on a couple of times by a coach when he got complacent. Dropped a sitter of a mark “Cuners you dropped the mark and have lost your opportunity.” “Cuners now defend, defend.” Overall Cuners was excellent – it needs to be said here. I wonder if thats pushing him to go to an elite level?
Hopefully I will have more for you on Murph later on in the day.