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Melbourne Football Club

Day 4 diary: Training in the rain

Day 4: Thursday, February 1

5.30am: Surf’s not quite up

There are some keen surfers among the group.

Nathan Jones, Jesse Hogan and James Harmes are among them. So too is Josh Wagner, who is seen jogging towards the beach with surfboard under his arm later in the day.

But Jones and Hogan are eager for a surf before training this morning. The only problem is that the conditions aren’t conducive.

It doesn’t stop Jones from taking his board over to the surf and having a look – just in case.

Instead, Jones catches up with his ‘Coffee Club’ buddies for an early morning brew – a club that’s believed to have a longer waiting list to join than the MCC!

A handful of coffee – and/or early morning enthusiasts – head to ‘The Island’, a popular café in Mudjimba, about five minutes away from the apartments at Sebel Twin Waters.

It’s pelting with rain this morning, but that doesn’t stop the likes of Jones, Max Gawn, Jordan Lewis, Jake Lever, Sam Frost, Simon Goodwin and Craig Jennings rising for an early coffee.  

Not surprisingly, Gawn is popular with the locals and has even been seen behind the counter on previous trips to the Sunshine Coast.

8am: Raining and training

The players have a half-day training schedule, in preparation for Friday’s main session, which will be the biggest of the camp.

Again, the squad is split into three groups, rotating between upper body weights, off legs (boxing) and craft/mobility. Each session lasts an hour.

Cam Pedersen says it’s been a productive morning, although it has an interesting start to the day.

“First of all, we had to do a pee test and give it to the dietician, as she’s doing some testing on us  and making sure we’re all fine,” he says.

“We did boxing in pairs and had a pretty solid session with weights, which was a bit of fun. A few of the boys were really challenging each other, so there was a good vibe in the gym today.

“After it was really hot yesterday – everyone was dripping with sweat in the gym – today, everyone was wet because of the rain outside, so it made for a bit of a change.”

Now in the middle stage of the camp, Pedersen says it’s been the best one yet.  

“I think this year’s camp has been fantastic. These camps, a few years ago, felt like we were getting flogged all of the time. Now there is a lot of rest and recovery and it’s about performance on the day,” he says.

“It’s not about cramming in as much as we can – it’s about when we’re out on the track, we’re training with speed and getting what we want out of it. We’re using our skills, instead of backing it up, day after day. Then you get to the end of the week and you feel you’re just hanging on.

“So far, it’s been very good. It’s only a half-day today, and then we have our main session on Friday, and then we’ll recharge on Saturday and go again for Monday’s session. I think they’ve spaced it out very well this year.”

12pm: Downtime

The players are given the afternoon off in preparation for Friday.  

Some players opt for a physio/massage session, others relax with lunch and coffee in Mooloolaba and some head to the movies.

Several players are disappointed that ‘All the Money in the World’ is not showing, so they join the others for a bite to eat.

But David Stratton … err, Pedersen watches ‘Den of Thieves’ with a few teammates and gives it the thumbs up!

“Den of thieves was a great movie. Jake Melksham, Tom Bugg, Joel Smith and myself attended the movie,” he says.

“It was a high action movie that was based around bank robberies in LA. A gang wants to rob a bank that has never been robbed before. Gerard Butler was a main character, who was a cop with a chequered past.

“During the movie, a few bags of Maltesers and popcorn were floating around. [My] rating was 3.5 stars out of five.”

For the coaches, much of their afternoon is spent in meetings and preparing for the rest of the camp.  

Reflecting on the first few days, Simon Goodwin says it’s going to plan.

“It’s been going terrific. It’s just a great opportunity to get away in a different environment and different conditions. We’ve come away and worked really intensely on our footy program,” he says.

“The intensity in our training sessions have been brilliant and we’ve also had a lot of time to build relationships and really build that deeper connection with one another.

“We’ve continued to develop culturally within our program, but also in terms of our game style. We’re really creating some great habits within our playing group.

“It’s been a step-by-step process and we’re building that slowly and we feel like we’re making some really good inroads into all of those areas. I’m really confident of where we’re heading as a club.”

Goodwin says he’s impressed by his charges in their first main session on Tuesday and he’s looking forward to seeing how they’ll back up on Friday.

“It was our first big test and the boys trained incredibly well,” he says.

“The intensity, especially defensively, was very impressive, so it was a great start to the camp and we’ve got two big sessions to come and some pretty trying conditions as well.

“We’re looking forward to putting the guys under some duress and seeing how our game style stacks up.”

6pm: The dinner winner

The final cooking challenge for the young brigade is on tonight.

After Sam Weideman, Harley Balic, Mitch King and Oskar Baker cooked on the first night, Dion Johnstone, Charlie Spargo, Joel Smith and Bayley Fritsch were in charge on Wednesday.

Tonight, it’s Lochie Filipovic, Declan Keilty and Harry Petty who are preparing salmon and beef burgers, and salad.

Dietician Loren Chambers says the three players all perform well, having cooked for Daniel Cross, physiotherapist Steve Allan, Max Gawn and Pedersen.  

“’Flip’ (Filipovic) has never cooked before and Harry did well on the barbeque,” she says.

“Declan did the salmon burgers and did a good job.”

But after dinner, a winner is declared.

Chambers says all participants have impressed, but the quartet of Weideman, Balic, King and Baker comes out on top.

She each gives them a movie gift card voucher for their victory – a nice gesture.

That could’ve been handy earlier in the day!