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TRAINING: Wednesday 11th January 2023


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Haven’t noticed Oliver, Petracca and Hunter, just about everyone else accounted for.

Petracca here!

J Smith striding out in rehab. BB taking lots of shots on goal after session marking in goal square v Stafford

Younger players tending to float short passes to leading forward (D Smith, 33, 39, KF-S) while Petracca, Viney, Kossie, ANB shoot hard and low bullets

Harmes, Verall, & Adams doing agility, ball handling

JVR stand out in team pressure ball carrier/ break free / handball to outside runner activity. He is quick, follows up, sure by hand

Kossie un-tackleable in same activity

Watching full length competitive Blue v Red, using all but Punt Road flank. Kossie brilliant midfield to forward… golden moment when he confronted Viney, bounced off him with ball and nailed a 50 metre kick to Harmes

Petracca now dominant. Seeing much more of Max than Grundy. First fumble by JVR. Howes marking and kicking well. 

Sparrow impressive in one of the handball / kick forward groups

Hibberd contesting well, Brayshaw so laconic… lacking precision, no one is worried!

Full ground sim now. JVR reads ball better and snaps a goal v May & Lever

Schache marks in front of Lever. McDonald has been very good in everything this morning. Big Max brings Kossie to ground with a strong tackle. Jefferson’s pass to Seston off!

Haven’t seen Petty for quite a while! Ed doing what Ed does! Beautiful pass by Viney to Schache, who is prominent close to goal

Match sim was so exciting to watch… speed ball taken to the next level! Boys back in small group skill activities, which are a bit boring by comparison (but essential of course!) It’s 11:10 and I’m about to check out…

If I was picking 23 on today’s training…

Max, Petracca, Viney, Langdon, Kossie, McDonald, Fritsch, JVR, Rivers, May, Harmes, ANB, Schache, Howes, Sparrow,  Lever, Brayshaw, Hibberd, Melksham, Jordan, Dunstan, Spargo, Grundy


Had a few drill stations going when I arrived late.  

Good to see some of the seniors, like Melky, providing guidance to the new boys like Kyah.

Burgoyne has joined in some of the drills and might be off rehab.

Burgoyne now joining the agility training and Harmes off to the main group

Kossie caught a nice short chip in from the side then kicked off - doubled back and intercepted once it was turned over.  Looking dynamic in the pack

Splitting up into different groups again, match sim done.  One group set up for the handball game drill - if there is a turnover then the group opens up and practises a long kick goalwards (with Harmes marking)

Viney scooped up a ground ball, broke out of a tackle and ran into space before beautiful kick forward

Some final observations of the match sim (unfortunately I had to leave):

Harmes weaving before kicking a low goal. 

Spargo fairly active and involved.  Lingers did a short chip to Spargs who moved into the space.  Ed later positioned himself down the line nicely as usual

Tomlinson fumbled and course corrected with kick to ChandlerChandler dropped but had a good second effort back.  However reds put the pressure on and Kossie in particular was strong with tackle and attempted smother

Jed and Verrell running laps, Burgoyne and someone else doing short runs on the other side.


Petty on laps. Haven’t seen Oliver or Hunter. BBB not in the main drill. Gus is. Harmes in the green hat playing full forward.

Full ground match sim drill with a focus on moving the ball as fast as possible.

Spare man in white bib going both ways.

When it was Tracc it was humming.

Since then it’s been Laurie - less humming as he hunted wide for kicks and didn’t power both sides, and Kossie - quick but more chaotic 

Lever very busy.

Schache (playing on grass) looked great until he was spoiled by Bowey

JVR loves an untimely fumble but he’s like a Labrador out there, just involved in everything 

That last set really belonged to Blake Howes. Probably had 8 touches in 5 minutes. Spoiling/out marking talls, lacing kicks, linking up. 

The match sim with even numbers started really ugly, it was pretty much a lowlight reel of last years end of season.

Couple of Woey turnovers off half back. JJ stagnating with the ball. Melksham getting run down. ANB getting it at half forward then getting run down by Melksham!

Fritsch was the meat in a Sparrow and one other big collision. He had to go off but came back on. Tracc was tended to at the next break. Then Tommy Mc (who was racking up touches) was having his knee assessed.

Gawn reads the ball in the air so much better than Grundy. But Grundy did get on the lead once or twice.

Once fatigue opened it up a little the ball started to move end to end with some nice passages of play.

Personally id like to have seen the coaches pause it at the start and redirect the focus on how to play uptempo against elite pressure. Ie. More switching, more movement, more handball link ups (all the small drills they’ve been training before the match sim)

Pickett was busy through the midfield. Viney seemed to be playing more on a flank.

Sestan had a few kicks pushing toward the wing/half back from a half forward start. He laced perfectly weighted kicks to T Mc and Grundy and a lovely inside ball to Petracca that set up a scoring opportunity. 

He looked completely spent after every repeat effort. I wonder if a haircut and training in a white hat rather than a dark hat would help a little! But if he can develop as an athlete the skills are there.


A lot has already been covered so I'll add a few observations.

The match sims were at full pace with respectful tackling but there was no lack of effort and intensity.  At stages Tmac, Trac, Fritta and Kyah all came off for attention but all returned other than Kyah who may have got a head knock.  He took a terrific contested mark but was wacked in the process and Gus escorted him off the ground and he didn't return.  It's very early days but I like what I see from him.  He gets involved and competes and when he gets a chance he usually does something.  He's very long term but there seem to be some fundamental there.

Kossie played back in the match sims and it was most likely a midfield role.  He really is so special and looks set for a fantastic year.  His bump on Viney and subsequent gather was really eye catching.

I agree that Blake Howes had a purple patch.  His hands are really good and his uses it well but towards the end there were a few clangers he'd rather forget.

Kade Chandler is really for AFL footy.  He's got great intensity, keeps his feet and uses it really well.

Buy shares in JVR if you haven't already.  He was terrific today and he's not a mark or forget player.  He really hunts the ball on the ground and backs himself in traffic to do something useful with the ball.  I've been really impressed with him the last couple of training sessions.

You'd also want a speculative bet on Oli Sestan.  His kicking is outstanding for both length and accuracy but what impressed me is he found the ball well for a rookie in the full match sims.  I'm backing JT to have found something special here but beware, I've been wrong lots of times.

Tmac seems to have his hands back.  He usually takes time to get up to pace and take one grabbers but the last two sessions he's clunked them first time every time.  He's not giving his spot up without a fight.  Interestingly he played back a bit so I'd imagine he's the swingman.

Jake Lever seems to be moving very well, much better than last year.  A return to his AA form would be a huge bonus.

Jack Viney was in everything and has done all of the sessions I've seen.  Good news, a full PS is a good omen for Jack.

Gus did the whole session but looked a touch off the pace.  Found lots of it but got caught a couple of times.

Adams and Verrell did a lot of running.  Interesting times.  I haven't seen them touch a footy at any training session and they look miles off the level of fitness required.  

Joel Smith and AMW did running and strength drills and I'd guess they have groin issues.  DSmith did a bit of ball work but not a lot so he's progressing slowly.

BBB on light duties today, hope it's just management as he's look really good so far this PS.


It was great to get down to see the team train this morning – left feeling very enthused and confident about our year ahead. I don’t think I’ve felt as confident as I do now after departing a training session at this time of the year before, would mainly have a few question marks on certain elements of the team but I think our list is in great shape and we’ve got great balance across the whole squad. On top of that it would seem we’re pretty fit and healthy, long may it continue!


Sparrow – Appeared to me to have an extra step and is really bursting forward once he gets the ball. Signs of Dangerfield / Petracca about him even more after this mornings showing. Just appeared to have a bit more time and was in the thick of it and was always dynamic with what he was doing once he got hands on the ball.

Kossi – He was heavily involved when on the ball in the match sim and even more so in the handball drills. Super dynamic and exciting to watch. Again it felt like he was constantly bursting forward like Sparrow and moving past opposition players.

JVR – Looks so hungry and keen to impact. He’s a busy player and constantly moving / chasing when not in possession himself. Very impressed with what I’ve seen so far and no idea how that translates into the year ahead but looks like he could really make his mark on the team.

Howes – Looked very comfortable across half back and was quite assured in his decision making. Got a bit of it in the match sim from where I was standing. Pretty tough back line to break into but I reckon he’ll offer something a bit different to the others once he gets in.

Trac – As others have mentioned he was everywhere, primed for another big year and looking super fit.

Schache – Had a bit of a presence up forward and albeit he wasn’t being closely checked he was certainly getting his hands on it. Feel he could have an impact in tandem with Fritsch if BBB falls off a cliff.


Into the warm-ups, which seem to be the same as usual.

A scoreboard is out. My guess is that they use it to simulate time left, scores and quarter, so they can perform particular scenarios.

They go into kicking drills, not the kick to kick type, but with players set at 4 points and at angles. It creates more chaos and gets them concentrating.

A day that seems to be getting them into competitive mode.

They do some handball games. Two stations are about 7 on 7, and one station is larger, then they rotate through them. Back to kicking drills, 3 stations, one hitting up the leader going sideways, another with the leader going away from the kicker and the kicker having to put a full range hit, can't remember what the other one was, they rotate through them.

Full sims, tackling and competitive. Sparrow put his body on the line numerous times, I saw him body whacked 4 or 5 times. It was at a frenetic pace and got heavier as it continued. Worried a couple of times, Bailey got a hit, Tracc went down, Farris-white came off head hit (great leadership by Brayshaw as he escorted him), Impressed with Pickett, sharp turning, untouchable with ball, beautiful disposals, closes down space so quickly. Schache has a good lead, gets separation. Lever and Viney (holding back from tackling) keeping up the standards, Howes looking good as was Woewodin who has the same composure as Salem. No-one can keep up with Chandler. JVR is ready. Spargo getting to the drop of the ball. Tomlinson was playing too high, let attacking players get space behind him. Brodie still finding his feet.

Some of our ball movement from back to forward was quick, delightful, and deliberate. Good structures already. Bowey did some great intercepts.

They didn't do any stoppage plays, so Grundy, Max didn't go up against each other.

After the sims into some goal kicking for mids and forwards, with the back-line hanging together in a warm down, talk it over kind of gathering with the ball moving between them. They were whistled, the runners are put on and away they go. Gruelling lap sprinting and fartlek running. They will sleep well tonight.

Tracc was still on the paddock doing set shot kicking after everyone had left.

Interesting that Hunter is not at training, not a good sign as these ones seem really team building. 

Talked to Richardson. Burgoyne (#33), they haven't decided yet. He will play for Casey if not listed. Lives with Pickett. I also asked about J.Smith. He tells me they still rate him and is not far off from completing rehab. Talked to J.Smith, told me he got an infection. Must have been post minor surgery.

Talked to the volunteer, tells me Friday is for Casey. So I assume Monday, Wednesday 9.30 am at Gosch's and Friday at Casey, will be the schedule.


Good news from the session: lack of obvious injuries being carried...i.e. apart from Kossie with a single tape under his knee, there were no other players with strapping, unlike the finals last year.

Even BBB, who was only doing goal kicking, didn't have his usual knee bandage. 

There were some heavy knocks.  Kyah F-W got hit heavily on the scone in a marking contest, and didn't look all too well. Gus assisted him off the ground while calling for trainers.  But he rejoined later.  Fritsch was very tender after being tackled and clutched at his knee, hobbled off, but also came back on.  Trac went down in a tackle and was looking the worse for wear, but also returned and was seen taking shots for goal after everyone else had long departed back to AAMI.

Definitely buy the JVR shares, with Blake Howes as the smokey speculative.  And if Sestan can build some endurance( he is a loooong way behind at the moment) he will be something special with his strength and kicking skills.


Got there a little late, but saw all the match sim and the running drills at end of session.

My thoughts (although much of this has been covered by others).

T-Mac: If I had to pick a BOG from the match sim, then T-Mac got the 3 votes easily. He is moving freely and the less-tight defence during the match sim just suits him to a tee as his smarts and positioning are always better than others. 

Trac: As someone who has been critical of his turnovers in recent times, I have got to say he was 100% with his disposal today and looked a clear team leader. The downside was that he appeared to jar his knee in a tackle late in match sim and spent a bit of time with treatment. The outcome must have been OK, because he did all the running drills at end of the session.

Angus: After missing most of pre-Christmas on light duties, he was back doing everything today, except that he was a little out of touch. Got caught with it a couple of times. But he'll be better for the run.

Rivers: This is a crucial year for Trent as he lost his way a little last season. And I liked what I saw from Riv and he has bulked up a bit so isn't as easily brushed aside. He also looks mega fit.

JVR: It's now almost obligatory for everyone to comment on our new FF. And yes he did look pretty good matched against Steven May. But he did also make a couple of turnover howlers. But it's his ability to keep at it, that make him so watchable. 

Kossie: T-Mac got my votes, but who did I enjoy watching. It looks like he's going to play in the middle at times and he will provide a spark and break open the lines. It's just like watching Cyril or Aaron Davey. He's the most dangerous player on our side. Mr Electric.

Ollie Sestan: He didn't touch it much, but when he did, he made a few lovely link-up plays. I have said before that I reckon JVR is the only newcomer likely to play this season, but who knows, this guy may be a chance late in the season. He has big Brian Wilson style hips, so he's hard to push off it.

Harmesy: Had to play up forward in the match sim and I do feel for him. He was willing to go to Essendon in the off-season so he could get some midfield minutes and let's hope his natural happy-go-lucky nature can overcome his obvious frustrations. He's a Melbourne man through and through so I hope he can find his way through what shapes as a tricky season.


I went along today for a first look for 2023 and I will not pretend to give a run down but I do agree with those who have given long reviews. Petracca did injure his left knee and came off twice to complain to about it but went back on and from the way he played it did not seem to worry him in play. I had the binoculars on him and he seemed to be moving ok.

Today I did something I don't think I have done since mobile phones came into regular use. I left it home and without the the player list on it I was struggling with the newer players / numbers etc. Quite a few times I thought that was a nice piece of play but little idea who the player was. Verral looks the goods and after  a couple of years to build his body up will help no end. I liked Chandler today I thought he played well. IF anyone doubts the importance of Tmac they should have been there today BOG IMO.

Interesting from my view of match play they seemed to constantly go around the flanks with very little through the centre alley. Now that may have been the directions for play today but it concerns me as the play tends to end up in a pocket most of the time. Last year we were constantly ending up trying to kick goals from difficult angles.

Interesting that when you watch practise I marvel at the kicking and hand ball accuracy, come game day and it goes to water.

As I have said over the years Practice is like dancing with your sister.


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