ELITE performance manager Dave Misson says Melbourne’s recent Northern Territory trip was one of the best sporting camps he has been involved in and that the club’s pre-season is far ahead of this stage last year.
Misson said the club achieved its objectives across the nine days at Robertson Barracks in Darwin and hike in Kakadu National Park.
“Our main aim of the camp was to be able to transport our program from Melbourne and to drop it into Darwin, and I think we were able to do that really well,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“We got three really good footy sessions in, and a couple of off legs conditioning sessions in. So from that point of view, it was great. But it was the added extras that we got, doing some things that we normally wouldn’t have been able to do in Melbourne, and that increased the resilience of the players – the mental toughness and being able to cope with the heat and humidity, as well as the physiological effects we feel you get from training in those conditions.
“Overall, the camp was a huge success. Players were able to get to know each other a fair bit more, and we put them under pressure and we put them under stress and we saw a lot of things that we really liked. It was one of the best camps I’ve been involved in.”
Misson said the first day back in Melbourne was tough for the players, but by the Christmas break, the players had bounced back.
“They were probably a little bit scratchy and rusty on Monday. I think we’d spent 10 days at high heat and humidity, working them pretty hard most of those days, even though we gave them two days off after that,” he said.
“We were probably still feeling it a little bit on Monday, and our guys battled through. But we blew some cobwebs out and Wednesday’s session [before the Christmas break] was really good.
“There are not too many more conditions that are going to be more challenging than playing in Darwin. So they’ve come back, knowing they’ve conquered some tough conditions.”
Misson said the players did some running tests before the Christmas break, and they will have plenty to work on over the break.
“The players have a pretty structured Christmas/New Year program, with the first-year players coming back on January 2 and the rest of the players on January 7. The sessions that they’re going to be asked to do are going to be solid,” he said.
“The days in between the training sessions are their own, so it gives them a chance to relax with family. But the sessions are pretty structured, and they’re going to have to send through feedback from those sessions, as well as reach some targets when they come back.
“We’re going to know who’s done it and who hasn’t.”
But Misson said the players would be eased back into their first week in 2013.
“The first week back is like a reintroduction to skills. That’s one thing that we can’t replicate during the break – the full group skill session,” he said.
“We’ll reintroduce the players back with that, but from January 14, we’re back into full on footy mode.”
Overall, Misson has been pleased with Melbourne’s pre-season to date.
“We feel we’re a long way ahead of this time last year. Most of them did the right thing during the off-season and showed in the early November testing that they were in really good nick and they ran good PBs (personal bests),” he said.
“We’ve been able to work from a pretty good platform that they’ve been able to create themselves over the pre-season. But all it’s done is enabled us to be able to train at a higher level and intensity in the post-Christmas period.
“What we’ve done is given ourselves an opportunity to really improve the intensity of our training after Christmas, so even though there are no guarantees, we’re pretty happy with where we’re at, at the moment.”
Misson said there had been several “running standouts”, including Daniel Nicholson, James Magner, Rohan Bail and Tom McDonald. He added that the likes of Sam Blease had stepped up, and new players like Shannon Byrnes had “been great”.
Colin Garland, James Frawley and Jordie McKenzie, who Misson said had been “fantastic pre-Christmas”, were also highlighted.
“To be honest, there haven’t been too many guys who haven’t stepped it up from where we were this time last year,” he said.
And he was also pleased with rookies Mitch Clisby and Nathan Stark, who joined the club just before the break.
“We’re easing them back in to an extent. Both of them have done some pre-season training back with their SANFL clubs, so they’ve got a bit of work in them,” he said.
“But we’re conscious that we’re not going to smash them straight away, so we’ll probably ease them back in, the first week after Christmas.
“They’re both really keen and really willing, and we’re just going to get them involved when we can.”