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Melbourne Football Club

Day 7 diary: Preparing for last hit-out

We worked on our togetherness and we opened up a bit, which was beneficial in getting to know one another
Jake Melksham

Day 7: Sunday, February 4

8am: Back into it

The players return to their scheduled training this morning after having Saturday off.  

They head out to the University of the Sunshine Coast, where the squad splits into three groups, completing upper body weights session, education and craft/mobility drills. They rotate after each hour.   

Christian Petracca says it’s a lighter session, with Monday’s final day set to be another big one. 

“Sunday is a day which gets us ready for an early 5am wake up with Monday's session,” he says.

During craft, which is held on the basketball court, Petracca once again dazzles, taking the opportunity to shoot some hoops.

“Craft on the basketball courts quickly turns into ‘King of the Court’ led by CP5 (Petracca),” Tom Bugg says.  

For emerging ruckman Mitch King, it’s been the right build-up for Monday.  

“We combined weights, some skills work and football education, which has rounded out the formal part of the day,” he says.

“In the afternoon, we’ll pack up our apartments, prepare for Monday’s training session and settle any week long FIFA battles that have occupied over the camp.”



12pm: Afternoon off

This afternoon is an opportunity for the players to prepare for Monday, relax and spend some more time together, before the camp ends.

For James Harmes and Jesse Hogan, it’s another chance to head out for a surf after lunch.

Unfortunately for Harmes the waves are “horrible, but fun surf”.

Christian Salem spends the latter part of the afternoon trying to defend his FIFA title.

“It’s the last afternoon on the PlayStation where people were trying to knock me off my FIFA throne,” he says.

“My biggest threat of the trip was Hibbo (Michael Hibberd). He got close numerous times but never got the job done. Harmesy did ok too. I beat him 11-1.”

For Sam Frost, the afternoon is a good opportunity to have a good sleep before Monday’s session.

“I thought the boys trained really well on Tuesday and Friday. We had some good sessions, and the coaches were happy with it. We also took away some good learnings from it as well, so we’re all looking forward to Monday,” he says.

Billy Stretch says the day has been balanced out well.

“We began Sunday completing [our activities] in our line groups at the university. We all then had the rest of the afternoon off to relax and get ourselves ready for a big final session on Monday morning,” he says.

“Most of Sunday afternoon was spent playing PlayStation and watching the [Adelaide] Strikers take out the Big Bash Grand Final.

“Our House, with Neville Jetta, Sam Weideman and James Harmes, spent most of the week doing dinners with the boys in the house next door, with Michael Hibberd, Jeffy Garlett, Christian Salem and Harley Balic. We cooked up a big BBQ for dinner on Sunday night.

“The great thing about being away on camp is that you live with your teammates for a week and do everything together, which is awesome. It’s great to learn more about how all the boys go about their business away from footy.”

Jay Kennedy Harris says the shifts starts to focus on the last session.

“We capped the night off with one last BBQ with housemates, which were Dom [Tyson], Oskar [Baker] and Nathan [Jones] for the week,” he says.

“That came after the boys spent some time getting their hands on the footy again and preparing our bodies for another hit out.”

Looking ahead to Monday’s session, Jake Melksham says he’s hoping to emulate something similar to what the squad achieved on Friday.

“That was one of our best sessions for the year,” he says.

“We had a hot session on the Tuesday and the wet session on Friday was very good. The wet session was good, because it was a really high standard, even though the conditions were different – far different to the hot session last Monday. But it was still very good.”

Melksham says the camp has come at the right time of the year.

“I think it’s been really beneficial. We’ve done some different things this year, compared to last year. We worked on our togetherness and we opened up a bit, which was beneficial in getting to know one another,” he said.

“I always like to house with blokes that you mightn’t know as well, or you don’t spend as much time off the field.

“This year I was with Corey Maynard, Bayley Fritsch and Joel Smith, which was really good. I’ve played one game with ‘Corker’ (Maynard) and one with Joel, and Fritsch has been at the club for a few months, so it was good to bond with them and get to know them a little bit better.”

“That’s the most enjoyable part of the trip I find, spending time with guys you don’t know too well.”

Overall, Melksham says he’s had a “really good” pre-season and can’t wait to get into 2018.  

“I’ve trained with the forwards all summer – and it’s been that togetherness that’s been really good,” he says.

“We’ve trained as a group for everything we do – our weights, our on-ground warm-ups are together and all of our breakdown drills are together.

“I played as a forward for the last part of last year and that’s where I’ll be playing again this year, so it’s good to have that continuity in your role for the team. It’s been great.”

Michael Hibberd, who was All-Australian in his first year at Melbourne in 2017, has no doubt this camp has tightened the group.  

“We had a lot of time to bond together, particularly with the rain being so evident over the whole week of the camp,” he says.

“We stayed indoors and spent a bit more time together and bonded. We did a few more group activities as opposed to last year.

“I know training and getting fit is very important – and working on your game plan and the game style that you want to implement – but bonding together and learning to get to know each other is very important as well, in a team sport.”

No doubt about that.