Every summer we get drip fed information from the AFL presumably to keep footy in the papers and on the minds of punters who may jump to the dreaded A-league. Although we hear the same rhetoric year in and year out about it being ‘the toughest pre-season ever at the club’ there can be some nuggets of gold around for the DT’er. Sometimes player x who is flying actually turns out to be a good Smokey! I snooped around a little online to see what I could find……..
Matthew Boyd, Daniel Cross and Daniel Giansiracusa were the usual suspects leading the time trials, with Nathan Djerrkura and Liam Picken in the next group behind. Upgraded rookie with the dreads Luke Dahlhaus was flying and reaping the benefits from his first full pre-season. Draftee Clay Smith was the early standout of the kids with his elite running and competitive nature, he has seamlessly fit into the group as far as his physicality was concerned. He could be a show for early games.
Koby Stevens first two pre-seasons at West Coast were destroyed by injury but he is finally relishing a clean bill of health this summer. The powerful midfielder is leaner, running just behind pacesetter Luke Shuey and is a big chance for early games this year. Draftee Murray Newman has been quick to impress with his speed and agility – two attributes that could see him earn games early in his career as a small forward. He could be vying with Brad Dick for a possible spot.
Alex Johnson is one that continues to impress on the track, After 20 games in his rookie season, including two finals;he is primed for this year following some standout performances in the Swans’ time trials. Another who has caught the eye is defender Nick Smith. He has already taken his running and fitness to a new level. Of the new draftees Father son pick Mitchell would be considered the most AFL-ready. A tough midfielder who uses the ball well and boasts a terrific work ethic, Mitchell should slot in well to the swans ethos.
New coach Watters has been particularly impressed with Adam Schneider, Stephen Milne and Justin Koschitzke. Koschitzke hasn’t had a pre-season for a few years,although you’d still have rocks in your head to pick him! Of the November draftees,Ex Eagle Beau Wilkes shapes as the most likely to play senior football early in 2012. He has been training with the backline group and is an option to fill the boots of Zac Dawson. He is locked for my bench!
Non Fantasy relevant midfielder Shane Edwards has emerged as the star performer in the early weeks of Richmond’s pre-season. The 23-year-old, who has played 89 games in five seasons and has impressed gaining strength and fitness. New draftee Ellis, a strong midfielder who was taken with pick 15, has been particularly impressive at training to date, club insiders say he should play senior games in 2012. Backman Morris has also been touted early by coach Hardwick.
Key forward Jay Schulz has been showing plenty of fire and passion at training, but all that means is he got in a punch on with a teammate. Nothing else DT related to mention here really! The club’s first pick in the Draft, Chad Wingard, has already shown toughness. Wingard fell off a mountain bike during the training camp in New Zealand, but insisted on finishing the arduous ride. The 18-year-old then shook off his injuries to front up for the white water rafting session a day later. Maybe if port spent more time training with footballs and less time being adrenaline junkies they may gain better football skills!
Nathan Grima has been flying pre-season and could be a serious DT candidate. Now well and truly over the back injury that wrecked his 2011, Grima is consistently at the front of the running groups and his sure ball-handling and pin-point disposal are just as eye-catching. Of the younger brigade, Shaun Atley is impressing his teammates with his feats in the gym. The next Chris Judd? Still a way to go it seems but bulking up is a start.
Rookie Daniel Nicholson has sparkled in virtually every session as he pushes hard to impress. Could be one to watch as a cash cow milker. Nathan Jones as always has been one of the best performers, running hard and encouraging others, while 194cm key defensive prospect Tom McDonald has raised eyebrows by keeping up with most of the club’s midfielders during running sessions. Not much DT related here really.
Luke Breusthas been a standout of the pre-season so far, the young small forward has elevated himself to another level. Watchlist ahoy! Liam Shiels has also impressed with his hard running and work ethic, while backman Ryan Schoenmakers has made big gains in strength. Mature-age rookies Broc McCauley and Adam Pattison should be ready to step straight in and offer support in the big man department if needed, although most peoples rucks benches will already be sorted one would think.
Lots to see at the GWS, needs to be our DT gold mine! Young forward Jeremy Cameron has added bulk to his frame and Steve Clifton has impressed with his fitness and running ability. Tom Scully has been told to pull back on his training; such has been his intent (feeling guilty?). In terms of which Giants kids are AFL-ready, there’s little doubt many will be thrown in early. Get your note books ready….Stephen Coniglio, Dom Tyson, Matthew Buntine, Dylan Shiel, Jeremy Cameron and Adam Treloar have all shown signs they are ready for football at AFL level.
Gary Ablett is tearing up the training track and is miles in front of the same time last year (lock); second-year players Luke Russell, Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy have also been hugely impressive to date. Prestia has kicked on in leaps and bounds, Caddy has been an animal on the track after an injury-plagued 2011, He could be a DT sleeper although price is a bit annoying.
Billie Smedts, Geelong’s first pick in the 2010 Draft has been a standout on the track so far. Smedts didn’t play at all last season after needing surgery to fix a hip problem, word is he could play early. Much of the focus has been on mature-age ruck bench DT lock Orren Stephenson. The 29-year-old ruckman has been impressing his new teammates with his fitness and skill.
Zac Clarke is seen by new coach Ross Lyon as “a young tall forward with elite athleticism”. Running in the lead pack early in the summer, the 21-year-old has also impressed with his strong marking ability and accurate kick when playing forward in drills. Could finally be in for a run of games alongside Sandi? Draftee Lachie Neale appears the most likely to play senior football in his debut season. The midfielder is strongly built and boasts an accurate kick that has impressed his coaches through the pre-season. Played senior football with SANFL club Glenelg but Lyon has a history of not playing kids.
Essendon players have spent a lot of time in the Gym bulking up; Angus Monfries, Jake Melksham and Dyson Heppell are all looking considerably larger. New DrafteeElliott Kavanagh, a midfielder could be the most likely to emerge early in the season. He has been sticking to Heppell all pre-season trying to emulate him. Coaching staff are confident that the three mature-age rookies – Corey Dell’Olio, Mark Baguley and Brendan Lee – are all capable of stepping up to AFL level straight away if called upon.
Scott Pendlebury and veteran Ben Johnson have impressed in pre-season leading most trials. Marty Clarke came back with a stronger physique than he had when he was last a Magpie and showed his endurance hasn’t suffered despite two seasons out of the game. Draftees Jamie Elliot and Peter Yagmoor impressed early on with their sharpness and speed, but would seem unlikely to play early doors.
Adelaide has also been bulking up. Breakout candidate Rory Sloane is leading the charge with a 3.5kg increase; Brodie Smith (2.5kg), Rick Henderson (2.4kg) and David McKay (2.3kg) aren’t far behind him. Rookie Ian Callinanalso put on two to three kilos and could be a sneaky mature pick. Josh Jenkins has impressed since arriving and could back Jacobs up in the ruck. Draftee Sam Kerridge impressed considerably on his first day at the club when he ran further than any other player and Luke Brown has emerged as one of the best in the boxing ring. If DT ever extends into boxing or running, get on these 2 then, for footy… Who knows?
Elevated rookie Mitch Golby has killed it in the weights room and is noticeably bigger, Irishman Pearce Hanley has come back fitter than ever, and Captain Jonathan Brown is as fit as he’s ever been after starting his first pre-season in more than a decade. Could be a nice differential this year! Of the draftees the most ready-made is Docherty even though he has had an injury hiccup he is expected to be back well in time for the season’s start. Zorko would seem to be a safer pick for a walk up start into the lion’s team.
Matthew Kreuzerhas shed several kilograms from his huge frame and looks fit, lean and mobile. Can he finally live up to DT potential? Kane Lucas, Paul Bower and Jordan Russell returned to training in excellent shape and have set a high standard. Bower in particular could be DT relevant if getting games. Of the draftees it wouldn’t surprise to see former Sydney rookie Sam Rowe featuring in Carlton’s senior side early in 2012. The 24-year-old spent the last four seasons at SANFL club Norwood and has played out of the goal square during match practice.. Big watch here for a bargain mature player.
I guess if you are a DT junkie you probably already know all this info and being 2nd or 3rd hand knowledge it can probably be taken with a grain of salt… but until the NAB it’s all we have!