Day 8: Friday, January 22
On the short morning stroll up to ‘House 3’ – where communications coordinator Matty Goodrope, video producer Sam Laidlaw and yours truly get a lift each morning on the mini-bus – I bump into senior development coach Dan McPherson.
I ask ‘Frosty’, as he is affectionately known, if he was part of the crew that headed to Noosa yesterday afternoon.
“Should have,” he says.
“Had an absolutely horrible round yesterday.”
It turns out he was part of a game of golf between some of the coaches and players, which was far more in favour of the latter group.
McPherson played with senior assistant coach Simon Goodwin, defensive coach Jade Rawlings and head of development Brett Allison.
The victorious team featured Dom Tyson, Tom McDonald, Oscar McDonald and Jayden Hunt.
Paul Roos and game analysis and education coordinator Craig Jennings soon pull up in the mini-bus – the coach is driving today – after ducking up to ‘The Island’ café for their morning coffee.
We’re then on our way out to the Maroochydore Multi-Sports Complex for what promises to be the hardest session of the camp. But more on that shortly.
Lynden Dunn is first on the bike, as Alex Neal-Bullen stretches on the floor.
Defensive coach Jade Rawlings is quickly on his laptop. He sits with a few players yet again before training, outlining vision and instructions. Dean Terlich, Cam Pedersen and Dean Kent each spend time with him.
The tunes are then flicked on.
Dreams Come True by Su Bailey Feat. Louis Read is the first for the day.
Training services coordinator Peter W.Roberts works on Chris Dawes before the session.
Outside, Liam Hulett tosses the ball against the rebounding net, sharpening his reflexes.
For tough-nut Jack Viney, he and the rest of the squad know it’s going to be a tough one.
“The rumours are that it’s going to be another 15 per cent increase in the workload from the last session. And the last session was a pretty big one for the boys,” he says.
“There is a bit of excitement and angst among the group. We’re ready to get stuck into a really tough session. It’s also really hot conditions here, so it’ll combine for a hard session.”
Goodwin again presents the pre-training meeting.
He runs through some drills, which were also a strong focus earlier in the week.
“We want you to treat today’s training like a game,” Goodwin says.
Roos concludes with one final message.
“Everyone needs to go up a level again,” he says.
Training is under way.
For the next three hours and six minutes, it’s relentless.
So much so that some of the players rate it the hardest training session they’ve done at the club – or at the very least, this pre-season.
Seven activities make up the morning.
Early on, manager of development Brendan McCartney gets his message across on the track.
He encourages, but it’s clear.
“Make it easy on your buddies – play like mangy dogs,” he says.
Roos later tells the players to give their teammate “a tickle” after some strong work on the track.
“Go give Gus a tickle,” he says to the players after Brayshaw works hard to get into position.
As training progresses, so too does the work of ruckman Max Gawn.
He impresses the coaching staff significantly, especially Roos.
By the end of it, Gawn is the big winner of the session – literally.
“I don’t know what he ate for dinner last week but he got the ‘Paul Roos Man of the Week Award’ for his efforts and picked up $100, so he was very lucky, Max,” Roos says afterwards.
“I just want to know if he’ll share it with his teammates or keep it for himself.
“I’ll leave it up to them and see what happens, but he’s been really good and the guys were saying that it was a really hard session. They performed well, given it was hot and there was a lot of pressure around the contest.”
Roos is also pleased with the training sessions of former Magpie Ben Kennedy and ex-Giant Tomas Bugg, who joined the club last October via the trade period.
“Benny Kennedy and Buggy are coming from other clubs and they’re learning, so it was good to see the way they went about it today. They took some great strides ahead and we really saw the way they’re going to impact the team,” he says.
“Kennedy showed some forward pressure and Buggy around the ball with his pressure and hardness, so it was good to see that.”
Captain Nathan Jones also earns praise from Roos.
“Even the skipper – who has been working really hard on his fitness – the way he has been covering the ground now at this time of the year has been good,” he says.
“He’s really trying to work on his open field running – he’s always been good around the stoppages – but to see him really work hard in the open field is good.
“So there have been really good signs.”
There are other encouraging indicators, such as big man Sam Frost’s performance, after only recently returning to the main group. For the versatile tall, he’s just happy to be back out amongst it, after missing most of last season – aside from the first three rounds – due to a toe injury.
“It was [a] very tough [session]. It was around the three hour mark, so it was a pretty solid session for the boys to finish up on,” Frost says.
“I did 80 to 90 per cent of the session, so I’m almost back to full training.
“I’ve just been introduced [last] Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, which was a bit lighter and this has been my biggest session since pre-Christmas. I’m almost back into full training so far.”
It’s been a most positive morning for the group and there is plenty to like from it.
Second-year player Billy Stretch, former captain Jack Grimes and midfielder Matt Jones finish first, second and third respectively for the most kilometres covered – highlighting the trio’s work rate.
Overall, Roos is rapt with his players’ efforts.
“We’ve been building the whole week and we wanted to do a real game-like session today and they responded really well,” he says.
“It was probably one of the best sessions we’ve had since I’ve been here, which was good.”
It must be noted that during training, a club favourite appears – 2011 best and fairest winner Brent Moloney, who now resides on the Sunshine Coast and plays for Noosa Tigers. He brings about 20 youngsters to the session as part of the Brent Moloney Academy, which he now runs in Queensland.
He’s still looking fit and ready to go and is in good spirits.
The group heads straight to Kawana Sports Precinct for lunch, before leg weights and education sessions.
A meat and salad buffet lunch is served and the players flock to it quicker than a seagull to a hot chip.
Some of the serving sizes dished up by the players would easily out do any hardcore all-you-can-eat veteran who has honed their craft at Pizza Hut, Smorgy’s or The Swagman. Oh, and if you don’t remember the latter two, do yourself a favour and have a look on YouTube!
Viney is “bloody excited” to tuck into the food.
“It’s been a big session and I haven’t eaten for bloody five hours, so I’m ready to get stuck into it,” he says.
“We had a big session with about 15-plus kilometres ticked off, so the boys are ready for some lunch now. They’re ready to refuel and rehydrate before we do the weights.
“I think it was the biggest session we’ve done this pre-season so far. We were well aware of what we were getting ourselves into and the coaches made it pretty clear it was going to be a pretty solid day of the camp – and they delivered.”
Goodrope, Laidlaw and yours truly hop back on the Jennings driven mini-bus, along with Roos, McPherson and Allison.
We head back towards our accommodation at Twin Waters, before Roos suggests – and shouts us all – a coffee and some “little treats” from The Island cafe, which serves his much-loved mocca. And a great latte, from what I discovered!
It goes down an absolute treat.
With the rest of the afternoon off, several of the crew goes for a dip in the beach or pool before a team barbeque is held at House 3.
The players make up the salads – one bowl per apartment – as the coaches cook the meat. Three barbeques are going, with Roos/McCartney, Mathews and McPherson manning them. Roos gets right into it and seems to thrive cooking the snags, hamburgers, chops and honey soy chicken.
There are some impressive salads made by the players, with spinach a strong theme across the board.
It’s a relaxing evening and a good way to cap off a successful day – and camp.
And with one day remaining – although it’s really a morning recovery session and a travel day – it’s safe to say that it’s been a genuinely successful camp.