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Stinear’s squad building strongly

Matt Burgan  December 21, 2017 3:17 PM

We were disappointed to come so close last season and not be a part of the Grand Final

WITH less than a month before Melbourne has its first hit-out in an AFLW practice match, coach Mick Stinear says his group is determined to go to the next level in 2018.

The Demons will have a Friday night practice match against Collingwood at Olympic Park on January 19, which Stinear said was a great opportunity for his team.

“It’ll be a really good test to see where we’re at, and then we’ve got another week off after that before we hit round one against GWS on February 3,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“We look forward to that challenge and then the other side of Christmas will be around match play and making sure we’re ready to go once the season hits.”

With Melbourne missing the Grand Final by percentage – the two highest placed teams at the end of the home and away season qualified – Stinear said the red and blue was determined to have a crack at the flag in 2018. 

“We were disappointed to come so close last season and not be a part of the Grand Final. We were a little bit slow to start and we got some serious momentum at the end, but you can’t do that in a seven-week competition,” he said.

“With the learnings from last year, in what we’ve been able to build and create, it’s put us in a really good spot to be able to launch and take things even further.

“The expectation is that we hit the ground running in round one and we help shape AFLW in season two, and make it fitter, faster, stronger and more skilful. So, we’re looking forward to being part of that.”

Stinear said the players had been “fantastic” since returning for their second AFLW pre-season.

“They’ve come back full of energy and a lot of drive,” he said.

“They’re really determined to make the most out of this second season. They’ve had a taste of AFLW and they’re determined to succeed this time around.

“There has been a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, and there has been a lot of work put in. We’re going really well at the moment.”

Stinear said there had also been considerable improvement in the overall squad since its first AFLW pre-season.

“For me, everything was so new last year. It was a new program and it was a new environment and a game hadn’t been played and we weren’t sure what we were in for,” he said.

“Getting to know all of the players – this time around, we’ve been able to approach it with a bit more of a plan and the players know what they’re in for.

“They’ve had nearly 12 months of preparing their bodies.”

Stinear said his squad’s pre-season was a short program, but a “pretty intense one”.

“We’ve just come back from camp at Torquay and the girls were fantastic. As a group, we’ve gone to another level and they’ve got a really strong understanding of how we want to play,” he said.

“They’re really taken ownership for the program and understand it’s their team and they’re the key drivers to success.

“In terms of the break, it hasn’t come at a great time, because we’ve got a lot of momentum, but it’s good for the players to spend some time with their family and friends, and recharge and then it’ll be full-on, once we come back with four weeks before round one.”