Jake Neade applies a strong tackle on Jay Schulz
Big Footy forum member Ford Fairlane - who is also a long-time PAFC Member - gives his take on Wednesday's Member only training session:
Up close the players do look seriously fit, maybe not massively bulky but certainly strong and really well-conditioned. I hear Burgess has been working them over. Even at the end of the 2 hour session, groups of players were running up the steps of the Quinn Stand while another group did a set of what looked like 70m run throughs. There really seems to be no dead time at training, it is geared to improving skills, the approach to football and fitness at every opportunity.
Some really tough looking intense aerobic drills involving football skills. Involved continuous short burst speed chasing a football around in pairs (one chasing, one throwing the ball for the other to chase) then swapping over.
Genuine commitment from the players too. At the end of this session the coach called time and the players said 'No, one more' and did it again. Then they went on a series of 70m run throughs. There is certainly a genuine resolve in this group to make up for the shortcomings of previous years.
The competitive work was seriously fiercely competitive. Some brutal gang tackling when the mids were practising clearances, guys were getting pounded into the ground. Some pretty tough looking shepherds with one memorable one where I think Ah Chee put Lobbe into the turf.
There was a mix of drills with groups using parts of the ground and an end to end drill with the whole squad. That Tyson Edwards bloke even played and he looks like he can handle himself.
Without giving away too much, there really is a new emphasis on applying pressure, learning to make good decisions under pressure, and giving sensible options to teammates under pressure.
Butch snr was running laps and looks fit and strong. Still a while away from full training. Nick Salter, Robbie Gray and Brent Renouf were all doing some ball handling drills away from the main group and didn't stay out long. But even they look in career best shape. Just to look at them you would think they could play tomorrow.
Saw Surj having a chat with the support staff when I arrived at the ground. Great to see him and Michael Wilson around the place. Just on that, the number of support staff looks to be multiplying. There would be a few volunteers among that group, but it is creating the impression of a more professional, responsive off-field team supporting the playing and coaching staff.
A few individual player observations of those guys in full training.
Believe what you hear about Jake Neade. Can this guy tackle. He brought down Jay Schulz in one of the competitive drills close to me and you could hear the Whack! of arm on body as he slapped a tackle on and brought big Jay down. He has an amazing drag down tackling technique and strength. He reminds me a bit of Pickett in the way he appears to be cruising then turns on the afterburners and runs players down. He seems to still surprise teammates with that closing speed. Uses his movement to find and creates time and space with the ball too and uses it well.
Sam Colquhoun is small but reads the play so well. He can find space, or create it, and is very good by foot. Not sure how he would go at this stage against bigger, more experienced bodies say one-on-one in defence but loose around the ground he would have some hurt factor.
Ollie Wines is all class. In the competitive work he finds space and gets the ball and even when the traffic closes down around him he spots clear options and gets the ball out. Showed a bit of pace I hadn't noticed in the U18 highlight packages too, so has some outside game too.
Our other 2012 National Draft recruits Tom Clurey and Mason Shaw look impressive as well. Tall, look a good AFL size already even though they are kids, and competed well in all the work. They could easily surprise with a NAB Cup/Challenge spot.
Jacko Trengove showed some surprising burst speed as well as his usual close checking, and his tall Fletcheresque frame is filling out under Burgess and McKeown.
Bobby Carlile looks exceptionally fit and agile, is follow up running, turning on a 5c piece and hitting targets.
The new defensive group of Jack Hombsch, Lewis Stevenson and Campbell Heath all look fit and are a decent size (Stevenson has what we in the old days called 'Russell Ebert thighs'), and look like they know what they are doing as defenders. Some good closing speed in that group and really noticed Heath and Hombsch hit packs (and players) hard in a couple of drills.
Big Red, Jarrad Redden another one who looks to have lost all puppy fat, looks a completely different body shape, plenty of lean muscle now and is a genuine AFL ruckman size. Lobbe too looked good - big and strong too - and appeared to be holding his ground much better in ruck contests.
Jasper Pittard can play and is looking like the quality footballer you expect a first rounder will be. Reads the play well and makes good position. Looks much stronger through the core, hips, thighs, especially thinking back to when he first arrived.
Cam O'Shea stood out for his hard running and contesting. Has the happy knack of getting where the ball is and will pressure opponents. I think with a bit more confidence and composure he could have a breakout year.
Ah Chee is still running into fitness but he looks solid through the core too. Looking forward to seeing what he can do at a higher level this year.
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