Friday is probably my favourite training day. The players throw on the jerseys and NRL refs are often in attendance. That’s because the end of the week usually means a full contact opposed session.
Readers will probably note the absence of training reports over the last few days. I was present at Kellyville on Monday but decided against writing up a mostly conditioning session. Wednesday morning’s work didn’t take place at the expected time and with the rain falling as it was, I didn’t stick around.
It was very close to a full squad out on the field this morning with almost all of the big guns present. The players lined up in either the Blue home jersey or the White kit, and there were enough present to have 13 on 13 with some interchange available for each team.
As it turned out, the full contact “game” lasted for approximately 25 minutes. The remainder of the session was divided between opposed drills within the quarter line and the obligatory conditioning.
From a spine perspective, it was Moses, Arthur, Rein and Perham facing off against Rankin, Brown, Hands/Yates, and Gutherson.
Mahoney was present and involved in conditioning work but took no part in the contact.
Very early in the “contest” it was clear that there was going to be heavy collisions in the forwards. The packs in both teams ripped in and it was terrific to see a player like Reg making his presence felt.
Wiremu Greig was a handful for the Blue defence in many carrids
* Gutho was particularly vociferous, demanding better efforts in defence, offering praise when deserved.
* Solomone Naiduki shut down one attacking raid close to the line with a massive hit
* Jake Arthur made a long break after cracking the White defence about 40 metres out from his own line
* Will Penisini beat multiple defenders in an elusive 20 metre run through traffic
The next period of opposed saw each team given possession under different scenarios in the red zone. Whether it be from a scrum or a penalty, the attacking team would receive a set to score from close range, whilst their opponents would have to deal with the defensive pressure.
Of course, these drills are always conducted under fatigue, so there was no shortage of running and up/downs before the footy took place.
Outside of some praiseworthy defence, there were impressive moments in possession that led to tries.
Cartwright enjoyed another day out in attack, and he placed the exclamation point on the morning by breaking the line then producing a “Gidley-esque” pass to his support runner for the try.
Waqa Blake then had two special plays in quick succession. Firstly he demonstrated a perfect AFL catch technique in bringing down a kick in the in goal. This was followed up by an individual try as he sliced through the defence and raced over the line.
Finally Jake Arthur engineered a four pointer for Makahesi Makatoa off a scrum with a perfectly timed pass that put Maka into a gap.
The big negative this morning was the field that was used. With the opposed sessions located on the field furthest from the viewing hill, it was challenging to identify the workhorses.
Giving credit to big hits or impressive attacking plays was much easier than finding those deserving of praise for their defensive efforts. When closer to the play we can more easily identify right or wrong movement in the line, as well as the all important communication.
Outside of that, there was too much dropped ball for my liking. This was mostly the consequence of some poor passing rather than the fault of the receiver.
The positive is that you don’t want perfection in a session. Errors provide focal points for improvement, be they individual or team related.
Next week we move into the final full week of January training. After that we enter the trial matches month.
Are you ready for footy?
How soon is now?
(Images courtesy of Bocko – Eels media)