Preseason Update: January

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:11 PM

Senior Coach Earl Spalding gives his take on where things are at 72 days out from round one.

The playing group's return from the Christmas break
“Yeah pretty good. Some of the younger guys probably didin’t do the work that we’d liked them to’ve done but they’ll pay for that in the first couple of weeks back. Majority of the senior guys have come back in pretty good knick and ran reasonable times for the amount of time they had off so we’re pretty happy with that.”

This weekend’s preseason training camp
“It’s all based around leadership and having guys step up in that area. We’ve identified it’s a weakness of our playing group, we think we’ve got some potential leaders there but hopefully this camp on the weekend allows us to identify them and give them an opportunity to demonstrate to us that they’re worthy of being leaders going forward, doesn’t matter how old they are.”

An update on 2017 injured players
“Lachie Dennis’ joining in most of the stuff, albeit restricted volume. He seems to be pulling up well. Cody Leggett’s training the house down again, like he was last year so touch wood he gets a good run at it. Spencer’s (White) tracking well, he’s nearly back to full contact training with his shoulder. His shins seem to be pulling up well but we’ll just need to monitor that. Belly’s (Jared Bell) still got a bit of work to do with his knee but hopefully we’ll see him at some stage this year.”

Other injury news
“Sincas' (Michael Sinclair) Achilles is nearly back to 100% so we’ve got to be mindful of getting his loads up before we throw him back in to full training. Lennon Marlin’s operation went really well, he’ll be a while yet but he’s tracking pretty well for his recovery at this stage. At this point of time, everyone other than Belly and Marlin is on course to be fit and available for round one.”

The 2018 playing group
“We’re obviously shallow in some areas, our ruck stocks are the obvious one where Eyresy (Christian Eyres) is going to have to stay fit again like he did last year, and sort of key forward and key back we’re pretty shallow. We’ve got some good young guys coming through but you wouldn’t want to throw them to the wolves too early. But everywhere else I think we’ve got a fair amount of depth building from the young guys from last year stepping up. So if we’re fit and healthy I’m confident we’ll give a good show of ourselves. We’re hoping that our ins (recruits) are slightly better than our outs and natural improvement with out young group will see us improve, certainly with a better injury run.”

“We still want to play the same game style that we were trying to last year. Availability of key forwards will allow us to do that. Even though we’ve lost some inside mids we think we’ve got some ready replacements with Corey Yeo coming in and also Joe Ugle stepping up. I think Joey’s got the ability to if he gets himself as fit as we think he can. I don’t think we’ve lost too much inside, it’ll just be a different look. We’re still working really hard on our defence.”

2018 recruits
“Yeo’s certainly a good size for an inside mid, he uses the ball really well by hand and by foot and he understands the game really well. He’s going to be a very good player for us I’ve got no doubt. Mitch Lague is a really good competitor down back, he’s a bit undersized for a key defender but he certainly competes and he’s got some leadership potential there too. Richie Bourne’s got some really exciting speed and he kicks the ball very well. He’s certainly outside and we’re working on his inside game but we don’t want to take away from his outside game because we certainly want to run and carry the ball when we can and he’s going to be important for that. Matty Taylor will be really important for us down back, rebounding out of our back 50. A couple of the recruits from amateurs have been impressive as well, in particular Luke Salamone who looks pretty exciting.”

Training the house down
“It’s been a pretty even contribution from the group. Brent Edmonds is a lot fitter than he was last year, I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes. Hopefully Cal Collard keeps progressing, he’s an enormous talent and if he can hang in there and keep training well we’re going to be a better side with him in it.”

January 2017 vs January 2018
“Being here at Lathlain Park full time is a different dynamic. Being down the road last preseason was difficult in certain regards but the guys are in a happier space training here. It’s a younger group who have got a bit of confidence about themselves and are starting to believe they belong at this level and that’s important. This time last year some of the younger guys were hoping they could play at this level where as this preseason rather than knowing that they could play at this level. I’m looking forward to seeing where this group can get to, I’m not putting a ceiling on them at all. We need a bit of luck and need a good start to get our confidence up but if we can get a bit of confidence and belief within this group, I think we can go a fair way.”

What January looks like from a training perspective
“It probably looks more like pre-Christmas than in season training. We’re still consolidating our loads and making sure we get them up but also just having a real focus on our structures going forward. We’re solely focused on round one against Swans and we won’t be taking any shortcuts before that.”

Are you in for 2018? More here