It’s the last week of pre-Christmas, pre-season training. A two week Christmas and New Year break looms for the players and staff, and given the intensity of the last seven weeks, it’s well-deserved.
The last training report was posted last Monday, so the purpose of this is to provide a quick summary of what’s transpired since then. The team has certainly been busy, even if I haven’t had the opportunity to write it up.
Wednesday – Members’ Open Training Session
During all of his years as a coach, I’ve never seen Brad Arthur waste an open session. With the players required to do a meet and greet with the fans, the temptation may be there to stage a lighter run as part of the event. I can assure supporters in attendance that they were witnessing a true reflection of Eels training.
The three hundred or so members at Old Saleyards watched an intense opposed session against the Jersey Flegg team. This has been a feature of the pre-season schedule in past seasons, but it’s the first time that it’s fallen on an open day.
Before the opposed work began, Adrian Jimenez pushed the squad into fatigue. He was just as tough as usual, though the language on the field may have been more PG rated for the event.
The Flegg team were then given all of the possession for around 20 minutes as the coaches drilled relentless try line defence. Eventually the NRL boys were given the chance to hone their attack as they were given their own period with the ball.
As far as the Flegg team was concerned, big Sam Hughes and Dave Hollis grabbed the attention. These boys are still eligible for SG Ball, but are physically imposing at the Under 20 level. It will be interesting to track their progress this year.
With a heavy workload pushed to late in the day on Wednesday, it was no surprise to see a lighter day on Friday. To clarify – it was only lighter in terms of contact. The clash with the Flegg team featured some heavy collisions, so I wasn’t surprised that the tackles were taken out of this session.
Today’s emphasis seemed to be on skills.
The games of Beach Footy and Raid Footy were highly competitive, and it seemed like bragging rights were being battled out. I expect nothing less when Gutho is involved. Murph and Lachie Wilmot each joined a team during Raid Footy, and there were a few questions asked of Kidwell’s officiating.
I thought that Gutherson, Brown and Parry were outstanding during the morning
Many of the staff then backed up for the Junior Rep trials on Saturday. It’s been a six day week for a few people of late, with the recent whole club training events adding an extra day to the schedule.
The warm-up and running mechanics with Lachlan Wilmot had the players building up from running with good rhythm to hitting and maintaining maximum velocity.
The squad was then split into forwards and backs as they alternated between conditioning with Adrian Jimenez and skills work with the coaches.
The forwards were first with Adrian and the running was relentless – about thirty minutes worth of shuttle runs. The backs had their “turn” after finishing their skills.
The backs began their skills session with kicking technique. It’s obvious that they want every back to be able to kick in general play should the need arise.
The outside backs then spent an extended period fielding general play kicks, with emphasis on communication and combination between the fullback and winger as the ball was gathered. Some astute kicking from the halves made the drill quite challenging.
The forwards began their work by practising their options close to the line. The variety of options made this interesting to watch.
Play was moved upfield as the forwards drilled mid-field shapes. There seemed to be a defensive component as the coaches were as pleased with defensive decisions as they were with the attack.
It was fascinating to hear BA emphasise the purpose of the different shapes – particularly the decisions that they will force upon the defence and how this can be taken advantage of.
The session concluded with the entire team coming together for unopposed work through of sets.
On reviewing the notes on Monday, it didn’t read as a tough session. However, the humidity levels were stifling and it was uncomfortable just watching from the shade. The players looked like they really felt this one.
I reckon that the coaches would have had a mixed opinion on the work. The effort was there but some of the execution was a bit off – mainly dropped ball. We probably don’t want perfection at training, as it might make you question the levels that are being set. Imperfection gives targets to work on.
I think Monday provided some goals for both individuals and the team.