AFTER three months of pre-season training, Melbourne is finally set to put its work to the test.
The Demons will play their first of three pre-season games on Saturday, taking on Adelaide in the first round of the Marsh Community Series.
But with the countdown on to Round 1, performance manager Darren Burgess is going to be tactical about how he uses his players in the coming weeks.
“It depends on the person and their pre-season and their injury history,” Burgess told Melbourne Media.
“It’d be unusual that players will play all three.
“We’ll certainly rest players in and out of games and tailor it to the individual, as well as the team needs, but we’ll certainly rotate players through most of the games, and in fact game time when they do play.”
While Melbourne will be out to win its clashes with the Crows, Kangas (an unofficial practice match) and Hawks, there is more to these contests than a win or a loss.
“I think the results are important to get confidence and cohesion amongst the group, but all roads lead to the premiership season,” Burgess said.
“We want to make sure the guys are in the best possible shape to attack 22, and hopefully more, games.
“We use these Marsh Community Series games as genuine trial games to trial different things.
“It’s also an opportunity to get game loads through different people.”
Burgess has enjoyed his first pre-season at the club, and although it’s hard to know for sure how fit the players will be, he’s confident with how things are progressing.
“It’s always a bit nervous at this time of the year when you start to play a lot of match play and training and coming into the Marsh Series, but the boys are in really good shape,” he said.
“There’s probably only one or two guys that are in danger of missing Round 1 that haven’t been on the long-term injury list like Harley (Bennell), Nieta (Aaron Nietschke) and KK (Kade Kolodjashnij), so I’m pretty happy.
“The workload’s been great.
“It’s been really consistent and most of the players, even the guys who have been in rehab like Brayshaw and Chandler, have been able to run a lot so workload’s been really good.”
The boys’ programs may lighten up a fraction on the training track while the pre-season games are taking place, but Burgess is going to continue to test them in a variety of ways.
“We’re still in pre-season so the boys will still work pretty hard, but we’ll start to taper off over the next two-to-three weeks,” he said.
“Obviously Goody and the coaches want to look at game style and we want to give them the best opportunity to keep the players fresh for that.
“But it’s still pre-season and there’s still an opportunity to get some work into the players, so we’ll certainly be doing that.”