JACK Viney says there is “heaps” of improvement left in Melbourne as it prepares for its NAB Challenge opener against Port Adelaide in Elizabeth on Saturday, February 27.
Speaking after Melbourne’s intra-club hit out at Casey Fields on Friday, Viney acknowledged there was still “a long way to go” before the red and blue could match it with the top teams.
“I’ve got no doubt our ability to play against those top teams is there and we’ve just got to find that consistency and bring it out every week,” he said.
Viney said much was gained from the intra-club match, after they were running around “like headless chooks” early on. Overall, he said it was a “terrific” step forward for the group.
“It was a bit scrappy early and everyone was pretty keen to get their hands on the footy,” he said.
“But as the game went on, we started to move the footy how we wanted to and we had some good passages of play.
“Guys [down back] like [Christian] Salem, Josh Wagner, for a first year [player], Jayden Hunt and Colin Garland all impressed me.”
Viney added that he was confident Salem would have a good season, after some “niggles” with his hamstring in 2015.
Draftee Clayton Oliver also impressed in the intra-club and Viney said that the midfielder was a genuine contender to play early in the season.
“Absolutely [I think he can play in the AFL]; I think Clayton’s had a terrific pre-season,” he said.
“Today we got to see some really good clips of him. He’s super clean and big-bodied. He’s deceptively quick and agile, and I’ve got no doubt he’ll be playing a few games throughout the year.
“It was good to see Clayton Oliver, Viv Michie, Aaron vandenBerg and Angus Brayshaw get some serious time in the middle. They showed us what they’re capable of and showed us that they’re able to play midfield, which is good for us.”
Viney also praised the effort of key forward Jesse Hogan, who impressed with four goals in attack.
“Jesse had a really, really good day, especially in the second half, when we started to get the ball moving better and he started getting a few better deliveries,” Viney said.
“He looks like he’s in good nick.”
Viney said senior assistant coach Simon Goodwin had been instrumental in developing Melbourne’s ball movement over the summer.
“Goody’s been really hands on and down on the deck and talking to players and [coach] Roosy (Paul Roos) has been more of an observer,” he said.
“That’s how it’s worked in the pre-season and that’s how it’ll work in the NAB Challenge as well.”
Viney said he was hellbent on helping Melbourne transform into “a successful footy team” long term.
“I’m always going to try and get the best out of myself and the rest of my teammates,” he said.