THE WAIT is over.
Melbourne finally got to hit Casey Fields as a collective on Wednesday, with the entire group training together for the first time since March.
While the session still looked slightly different, with social distancing at huddles and a no high-five policy, the Demons were able to get plenty out of their three-hour run.
Here’s how it looked.
Spirits were high as the boys took off for their first warm-up lap as one, and the energy remained for the entire session.
With the AFL allowing full contact drills, the Dees jumped straight into some match simulation – yellow v blue.
From Christian Petracca’s side steps to Michael Hibberd’s desperate spoils, there was a lot to like in this mini hit-out.
Joel Smith was in full flight down back, while the Demons’ three draftees – Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett and Trent Rivers – all had an impact.
And despite fashioning some outrageous handlebars, Jack Viney’s work rate at the contest was a standout.
At each interval, the boys ran to one end of the field to work on their goal kicking, before taking a drink break at six different stations.
To conclude the session, the Dees were divided into smaller groups to complete some intensive running, tackling and marking drills.
It’s no secret Harley Bennell (calf) and Aaron vandenBerg (foot) have faced their share of challenges with injury in recent times, but they both look to be on the mend.
The pair were involved from the outset on Wednesday as they continue to take big steps forward in their recovery.
Bennell shone in the match simulation with repeated efforts on the wing and showed a great ability to read the play.
But the club will continue to take it slowly with the former No.2 draft pick, understanding it will take time to get him in a position to play his first senior game since 2017.
It’s a similar story for vandenBerg, whose return from a broken foot won’t be rushed.
The 28-year-old has a great understanding of what he needs to do to get back this season and his presence at training was exciting for all to see.
It wouldn’t be a day at Casey if it wasn’t windy.
But aside from the challenge of kicking into the breeze, the sun was out, and believe it or not, it wasn’t that cold.
The music was blaring through the speakers creating a good atmosphere on the track as the boys enjoyed their first of two main sessions for the week.
Once the work wrapped up, Nathan Jones and Christian Petracca fronted the media to share their thoughts on a big morning at Melbourne’s new home.
Jones: “We’ve just come from a fair break off at a time that we never get any time off, so to be honest, I feel great physically. The sessions that Burgo (Darren Burgess) and the team had organised over the period were quite tough, but in saying that, it prepared us for a session like this that we saw today. I’m pretty confident with where this group’s at physically and we’re all excited to get back out there and start playing games like we should be.”
Petracca: “It was a good session – a long gruelling one. It’s good to be back with the boys, I mean, it’s been nearly eight or nine weeks now since Round 1, so to see all the boys again … it’s a great feeling.”