LAST Wednesday evening, when Melbourne’s players, coaches and staff had departed Casey Fields for the day, one man remained: Kade Chandler.
The 22-year-old was sitting alone in the office area, watching behind the goals vision of Footscray’s VFL match from the previous weekend.
And perhaps that preparation was the difference three days later, when Chandler slotted four goals to help Casey to a 15th win from as many games this season.
While Chandler has only had three opportunities at AFL level in 2022 – starting as sub on each of those occasions – his VFL form has been faultless, and he has been giving himself the best chance to perform each match.
“Every week I come in, generally either flush run day or main training, and I’ll do my review with Corra (Casey coach Mark Corrigan),” Chandler told Melbourne Media.
“If I played AFL then I would go through my review with Staff (forward coach Greg Stafford) and talk about what I can do better and also what I did well.”
This weekly review occurs in some form for all players, but Chandler has been going above and beyond to set himself up to succeed.
The small forward’s attention to detail, for not only his own game but for those he is about to face, has been giving him an edge come game day.
“Depending on what team I’m playing in I’ll try to find what kind of match-ups I’ll get on the weekend and who I’ll be playing on,” Chandler said.
“[I] try to look at their game and see what habits they have and patterns they run … to see where I can get a little bit of an advantage.
“I find it really helpful, just because it helps me obviously feel good about myself mentally that I’ve done the work during the week.
“Knowing your opponent has its perks as well.
After two COVID-19 interrupted seasons, Chandler has showcased his development in the red and blue this year.
In his past four games for the Casey Demons, Chandler has averaged 22 touches and booted 12 goals, pushing his claim for a senior recall.
“I’m in my fourth year now so I’ve played a fair bit of VFL footy,” he said.
“Each week I play on Christian Salem, Michael Hibberd … so playing on these guys really prepares me well to play both AFL and VFL and I feel like I’m ready to take that next step now.”