Day 10: Wednesday, February 8
It’s time to depart the Sunshine Coast and head back to Melbourne after another successful camp for the club.
Soon, the entire touring party is at the Sunshine Coast Airport in readiness for flight VA 1508 to Melbourne.
There is a slight delay in the 11.25am departure, with arrival time back in Melbourne coming around 3.20pm.
Before we head off, I speak to several players about their thoughts on the camp and the upcoming JLT Community Series. They include the following players:
Nathan Jones: I loved the camp and I think the players did too. The timing was great. Sometimes if you have the camp and then come back, it can be a holding pattern, but because we’ve got it leading into games – it’s only going to benefit the group. I felt we got some really quality sessions in up there. Now I’m pretty excited for games and the players are too – the challenge of playing an opposition is exciting and hopefully we’ve made some big inroads. I joke around that I’m like a fine wine and getting better with time, but I feel like I’m sharpening and refining some things and I’ve really honed in on some aspects of my game
Tom McDonald: This was my favourite pre-season camp – I really enjoyed this one. It’s my favourite one of my whole career – not just the one up at Maroochydore. It’s been a really good balance of training, spare time and getting to know blokes better. I also played some golf and it means by having some time off that you’re actually looking forward to going to training – despite how hard it is – because you’ve had time to recover. I had Col Garland, Billy Stretch and Christian Salem in my room and it was great to share a house with them. We played some board games and PlayStation, so we had some fun nights. We’ve had some really solid sessions up here in the heat that we can take into games. It’s a very exciting year – we just want to play footy.
James Harmes: I really enjoyed the camp this year. When we had to train, we did pretty hard, but we also had some down time and the boys were able to surf or play some golf. Not only did we train hard, we built a lot of relationships as well, so it was good. I’m really excited about the season ahead – I haven’t missed a session for the second year in a row – and I’ve got another pre-season under my belt. That held me in good stead last year, so hopefully it will again this year. I’ll probably play a bit more up forward this year, so that’ll be good. I’m still weighing the same this year, but have stripped fat and have put on some size.
Oscar McDonald: It was really good. We flew up here later than we have in the past couple of years to minimise the gap between the camp and the games. We really put a premium on training up here and we also had enough time to play golf or go surfing or catch up with friends and family up here. It was really quality over quantity. Having the Twin Waters golf resort close by was good for us. I reckon I played two and a half rounds and Bernie Vince snuck in four or five rounds. I feel really comfortable going into this year, having played a block of games in the backend of last year. This pre-season has been great and I’ve worked a lot on my body size and it’s starting to show.
Jack Trengove: It’s been exciting because the boys are training really well and we’re putting into practice a lot of things we’ve been working on this pre-season. It’s starting to really show. We’ve got a great intensity to it, so it’s been really good, even though it’s been bloody tough. I had high expectations – and the heat always makes a fair difference compared to back in Melbourne. The way we’re training now, we’ve got better skills and the way we’re moving the ball, it makes it easier. No doubt any session up here is tough. I’m just loving every second and I’ve been up to this camp on Maroochydore three times and this is the first time I’ve got to train, so I’m loving every second of it and getting some quality kms in the legs. There is a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) when you’re not involved. I’m just trying to improve myself every session.
Mitch White: I found this camp better this year – it was really well structured. We’ve done a lot of work on the game plan, so it’s been a really good time up here. This is my third season now, so I’m always trying to keep learning and experiencing new things. Three games in two years isn’t great to write home about, but it’s something I want to improve on this year. I really want to have a good crack at it. Inconsistency has been my big thing, but I’ve really worked on it and I just want to play better for longer.
Ben Kennedy: The camp’s been awesome. We’ve worked hard and then had some good down time, so it gives you the opportunity to hang out with your teammates. Being here for 10 days with the boys – it’s just been good to get away with your teammates.
Tim Smith: It’s been a great getaway from Melbourne and training in a different atmosphere. It was really enjoyable and I can’t wait to get out now and have a crack at the games, where you get a chance to prove yourself. I’ve just got to dig in deep and hopefully the rewards will come my way. It’s been great to build relationships and room with Sam Weideman, Jake Melksham and Aaron vandenBerg – we had a great time.
Corey Maynard: It was awesome. I really enjoyed it. It was the perfect balance between training and being switched on, and getting the most out of it, and getting our game plan and our game style down pat. Then when we had some down time, it was great to mix with the boys – they were playing golf and going surfing, which was great.
Mitch King: It was great to get up here, particularly with all of the boys and do my rehab. It’s been tough not being in the main group for a while, so it was good getting up here. The games are getting closer and I’m getting closer, so it’s working out well at the moment. It’s an exciting year after a tough first year. I just want to get out on the park and start playing footy again, so I’m looking forward to it.
The wash-up of the camp is that it’s been the best one yet on the Sunshine Coast. There is no doubt the players have put in some big sessions, but they’ve had the recovery time to back up and go again. A strong sense of mateship – getting to know each other well is another critical element of the camp. It might come in the form of a hit of golf, a coffee catch-up or a swim in the ocean, but those bonding aspects are integral to the team and that’s been deliberately added to the program.
It’s hard not to get excited about this group. No doubt, there will be ups and downs to come, but the 2017 list, will only continue to improve in the next few years
Goodwin says he can’t wait for the season to get started.
“I’m excited – you’ve got be excited about the amount of talent we’ve got to work with, but also the people we’ve got involved at the footy club,” he says.
“We’ve got an incredible bunch of coaches and support staff who are driving a talented playing group and with that, comes a level of excitement moving forward.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how that comes out.”
Personally, it’s been another great insight into the work that the players, coaches and staff put into the club. You can be assured they are doing everything possible to make the club a success.
And big thumbs up to colleagues and mates Sam Laidlaw and Georgina Lewis, who have done a power of work on the trip. And to Matty Goodrope back home, who normally comes on the Sunshine Coast camp, but has done a mighty job behind the scenes with the women’s team.