Buddy’s surprise pre-season move
BARELY a month after Richmond won their second premiership in three years, some AFL clubs are already back in training.
Round one isn't until March 19, next year, but that hasn't stopped a number of non-finals clubs hitting the track today.
Young guns from Carlton, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Sydney, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Gold Coast have all dusted off the boots and hit the track on Monday.
And so it begins! 🤗— Hawthorn FC (@HawthornFC) November 3, 2019
The first to fourth years are back at it today! pic.twitter.com/zhWaMe4NPQ
Lance Franklin, fresh from off-season groin surgery, surprised the Swans' kids and coaches by hitting the track.
Franklin had an operation on his left ankle during the off season and also a procedure to release a muscle in his glute. It followed a frustrating 2019 campaign which saw him miss much of pre-season and his game time severely restricted due to injury.
But he was out on the track first thing on Monday, to the surprise and delight of the Swans' coaching staff.
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Coach Dean Cox, who has added overall performance and strategy to his duties for 2020, said having Franklin on board so early sent out a hugely positive message to the rest of the group.
"It was a bit of a surprise (Franklin showing up)," Cox said.
"Lance and the senior players still have a couple of weeks (holiday) so anyone that comes in, it is certainly voluntary. It's really good to see him back and he was really keen to get amongst the young boys while continuing his off-season program.
"Lance sets really high standards for himself. What you want your leaders and senior players to do is set a really good example. We've had that here for a long time and Lance is no different."
Jordan Dawson won the Swans' first time-trial of the pre-season.
Franklin wasn't the only big name to make an early start to their 2020 pre-season.
For the Demons, superstar ruckman Max Gawn and star swingman Tom McDonald were both out on the track early with the first to fourth-year players.
Gawn is being seriously considered as potential sole captain or co-captain with Jack Viney for 2020 after the disappointment of a poor 2019 season.
New fitness boss Darren Burgess oversaw the two-hour session, which included a mix of skills and challenging running.
Best and fairest winner Clayton Oliver was also out on the track after missing the bulk of last season with shoulder surgery, while forward Sam Weideman was restricted to running laps after a hip cleanout.
Delisted Docker Harley Bennell has agreed to train with the Demons in a bid to resurrect his career.
At Hawthorn, Chad Wingard was among the Hawks who returned for day one of pre-season at Waverley, with ex-Carlton coach Brendon Bolton also catching the eye in his new role as director of coaching.
Franklin's new Swans teammate Sam Gray has revealed he was surprised to learn he wouldn't have an AFL place at Port Adelaide next year.
Gray was delisted by the Power after being told by head coach Ken Hinkley that it would be best to look elsewhere.
"We just had that conversation at the end of the year and he (Hinkley) said they've got some young forwards coming through, and there's probably not going to be a spot for me next year at half forward, so it is probably best that I look elsewhere," Gray said.
"I was pretty surprised to be honest.
"I played the last 20 games in a row and thought I might have been OK, but that wasn't the terms."
In a busy day for the Swans, they've finalised their football department for 2020, with Brett Kirk, Dean Cox, John Blakey and Tadhg Kennelly all taking on new roles and Jarrad McVeigh joining the coaching panel.
Kirk, who has led the Swans midfield over the past four seasons, will take up a new role in development. Cox will also move from midfield coach to a new assignment focused on on-field strategy and performance analysis. Blakey is set to become defence coach, while Kennelly and McVeigh will oversee the midfield group.
After suffering a horrific broken leg in Round 2 last season, Jack Watts was a welcome sight on the training track for Port Adelaide.
Watts, recruited from Melbourne two years ago, did not play again in 2019 but, in a good sign for the Power, appears ready for a full pre-season.
Fremantle's first-fourth year players, including new Dockers Blake Acres and James Aish, were also at it today.
Unlisted Hugh Dixon and Tom North were on the track, with the club planning to snap up the pair in this month's rookie draft.
The more experienced Dockers begin in two weeks.