What Duke has to say about the pre-season

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 8:36 PM

As we head excitedly into our Round 1 clash with the West Coast Eagles WAFL side, we leave behind our best pre-season preparation in my four and a half years at the club.

As a group we are as fit and healthy as we’ve ever been and our S&C staff, Saia, Harry & Evan along with Brett, our Physio, deserve to take all the credit for this. Whilst luck can play a part in injury prevention, their attention to detail has certainly minimised this and means we basically only have two players unavailable for selection this week.

Several other players haven’t necessarily had the pre-seasons they’d have liked, due to off season surgery or recovery from significant injury from last year, but Saia has got them to a point where they are ready to go and not far off their optimum fitness.

We had two really good intra-club hit-outs that straddled our Outside The Locker Room clash with Swan Districts. We didn’t set the world on fire in that game, but it gave us the opportunity to have a look at a number of our younger players against a slightly more experienced opposition. Michael Bennell, Nyika John, Jack Schwarze and Josh Burke were our better players on the day.

Our next hit out was against Claremont, who will be a formidable opposition for everyone this year, and we were fantastic for 80% of the game. Unfortunately they kicked eight goals to none in the third quarter to wipe away our three goal lead and build a sizeable three-quarter time buffer. We fought back early in the last, but ended up going down by just under four goals.

Some of the changes we made during the break might have unsettled us, but we all agreed after the game our attitude after half time was nowhere near good enough. There were plenty of positives as we continued to create opportunities, but we just needed to be more diligent in transition. Michael Bennell, Clint Jones (in his first hit-out), Cody Leggett, Brant Colledge, Christian Eyres and Matt Taylor were our best on the day.

Our final dress rehearsal took us down to Mandurah to face up to a Peel side with 11 Freo Dockers in their line-up. Another third-quarter lapse where they kicked eight goals to our two took a fair bit of gloss off our performance for the rest of the game, which produced some of our most exciting passages of play for many a season.

We had a four goal lead at half time and got our noses two goals up again late in the game, but they managed to kick a point virtually on the siren to win by that margin. Wasted opportunities came back to haunt us, as we had 12 more inside 50 entries for the day. We also identified that when we were under pressure, we went back into our shell, instead of defending boldly. Kristian Cary, Chris Bryan, Mitch Lague, Clint Jones and Matt Taylor were our better players on the day.

Although not perfect, it was a very positive last hit out and fills us full of confidence that we will not only give a very good account of ourselves this week, but will be well and truly worth supporting for the whole season.