That’s more like It!
The return of Junior Paulo, Kane Evans, Mitch Moses, Brad Takairangi and Nathan Brown meant that the squad was close to full strength today. With only Michael Jennings and Clint Gutherson yet to return to the training paddock, this morning’s session seemed to lift in both competitiveness and intensity.
For those on day 1 of their pre-season journey, the conditioning questions must have been a shock to the system. To be fair, the questions were mostly answered.
Today felt like a full NRL team session.
Here’s how it went down:
Dylan Brown Impresses
He looks strong, he looks fast.
The 1.2km run kicked off the conditioning and Dylbags led from start to finish. Given the impression our young Kiwi made last preseason, this should come as no surprise.
But there was almost an air of confidence in his running today – like he had decided to set a standard and knew he could do it. And I reckon it created an impression in the group.
Just behind Dylan on this first run was Jaeman Salmon and Mitch Moses. The Dally M half of the year also brought the talk, chirping away at his team mates from the get go.
Later in the session, when the squad came together again as a big group for more conditioning, it was Dylan, Ferguson and Salmon who stood out. When the conditioning concluded with Malcolms, Kyle Schneider put his name up in lights with a strong finish to the session.
The numbers in training today necessitated that the squad be split into two groups of about 13 for some position specific conditioning.
This part of the session began with one group working on their conditioning under the watchful eye of Trent Elkin, while the other worked with the coaches on defence.
A course of close to 200 metres was marked out by the new Eels trainer. Different posts were set out as the finishing points for particular players, based on their positions.
This course was completed multiple times with the only “rest” being the time it took for the group to return to the starting line. It was exhausting to watch Elkin as he often ran alongside the players, offering encouragement then counting down times.
The group working on defence were regathering the loose ball or fielding kicks in general play close to the line. Shutting down the attacking team’s chances of repeat sets or taking the opportunity to achieve turn-overs are critical aspects of defence – it’s not just about the tackles.
After about 20 minutes, the two groups swapped around.
Relentless Defence (Or Was It Relentless Attack?)
Having two “teams” available today permitted full field width opposed work within the quarter. Each team had multiple sets of six in possession, with their opposition expected to hold them out for a period of around ten minutes. It simulates the demands that can arise from repeat sets.
There were plenty of bodies in motion, and the attack hit each area of the line – the middle, edge and out wide.
A stand out moment for me was when RCG momentarily forgot that he was wearing orange and put a shot on an attacking player.
All In (But Camaraderie Well Noted)
Towards the end, it appeared as if a penalty was imposed on the squad. Someone made an error and the squad was reminded about everything being done as a team. The players were left in little doubt by Elkin that it wasn’t good enough as an additional set of runs was completed.
But whether there’s a penalty, or whether someone is doing a bit extra on their own, I’m highly impressed by the camaraderie on display.
Penalties always result in voices picking up and urging each other on. That’s exactly what you want to see in response to penalties in games. Don’t kick stones, don’t drop your heads. Work harder and encourage each other.
Furthermore, an individual completing additional running will find himself with a small cheer squad of team mates encouraging them, then congratulating them when they finish. They learn that there’s others who have their back.
Players talk about team bonds, and I’ve seen and heard plenty of evidence that it exists in spades.
It’s going to be a hot one tomorrow!
See you then.