Wednesday, March 19
Geelong Advertiser _ Andrew Bews
JUST about every player on Geelong's list who has been given a pre-season game will feel they've earned a start when the season kicks off in two weeks.
Obviously for some of them there will be disappointment when the teams are announced, but before that moment most will also find themselves with time on their hands.
There's just under two weeks to go before the start of the AFL season and some players will feel like their lives are in limbo after four weeks of Wizard Cup and practice games.
There'll be elements of frustration and apprehension and excitement as players find themselves with time on their hands after a solid pre-season of training and games.
Having a weekend off presents opportunities for players to either focus on elements of their game or to get away from the demands of football.
There will be a group of underdone players who will be looking forward to getting another run under their belt through the VFL and others looking forward to the freedom that comes with a week off.
Cameron Ling and David Clarke are two that will probably need the run and will benefit from it.
Peter Street also needs as much ground time as he can get to refine the role the club so desperately wants him to play in 2003.
For those who have had a full pre-season and played in the Wizard Cup games, the week's break poses a unique problem: just what to do.
It's not often players find themselves with any free time once the season gets underway so they should relish it and get away from the club and even their house.
On the Football Show last week, Shane Crawford spoke about the benefits of a week at a health farm and how it helped recharge his batteries and focus more clearly on the challenges of the coming season.
So what could some of the players be doing?
It depends on their personalities and even more so their ages.
Geelong's got a young list so it won't surprise me if they group up and do something or go somewhere together with no great footballing agenda other than to perhaps get to know each other in a relaxed environment.
At Geelong in the 1980s our commitment ran right up to the start of the season with practice games.
That wasn't the case for some Melbourne-based clubs and it was sometimes difficult to convince them to organise a game which meant we would sometimes end up playing intraclub scratch matches.
One thing that will emerge now is the obsessions displayed by the club's fitness advisers, who will go into a frenzy and see the break as an opportunity to push some of those players that have missed sessions through injury.
They're the ones who are just obsessed with the conditioning of the playing list and will move their programs into final phases.
The players will get the weekend off but there'll be little respite from the weight and running advisers who will see the break as an opportunity to push the players even harder on the track to ensure they're at their optimum for the opening game.
Some players will go away, some will up the training ante and others will just take the opportunity to relax.