K rock Football

Short pre-season a test for Cats

Dejected Geelong players watch on as Richmond celebrates its 2020 premiership win. (AFL Photos Image/Matt Roberts)

A LATER than usual start to pre-season will provide some challenges heading into the AFL Community Series and home-and-away season according to Geelong assistant coach Nigel Lappin.

The Cats will complete just eight weeks of training before its opening Community Series clash with Essendon on February 18.

Lappin says Geelong will prioritise its objectives during the condensed period.

“That’s not necessarily overly hard to do, but you will get to through that period and think ‘have we done enough?’,” Lappin said.

“The short answer with that stuff is that it’s OK to have not done enough; we don’t have to be playing our best footy at that stage.

“You need to be playing well enough that you can compete and get your early wins, absolutely, But, you want to be developing and growing your game-style throughout the year, which the best team in the comp over the last few years has shown.

“They haven’t always started the year unbelievably well; they’ve been thereabouts and competing really well.

“But when it matters, they’re at their best.”

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Lappin admits preparing players with more than five years of experience who aren’t due back at training until January 6 will be a more significant challenge.

“With quarters going back to standard time and the rotations reduced, it is going to put a fair bit of strain on the older guys, who are only due back post-Christmas,” he said.

“That’s the scary thing for us as coaches – are those guys going to be conditioned well enough in the early part of the season to avoid injuries.”

Geelong’s draftees Max Holmes, Shannon Neale and Nick Stevens were eased into training this week and, along with the other youngsters on the list, they will have a structured program to complete between now and returning to training in a just under three weeks.

“That involves some conditioning and some high-speed running, which is really important to make sure they keep their body used to the intensity that’s going to also be in training in January,” Lappin said.

“And a bit of footy stuff and a bit of gym work to maintain their strength.

“There’ll be some guys around Geelong who’ll get together at least a couple of days a week to have a kick of the footy together. It’s always easier when you’re doing it with someone else through the pre-season.

You get the odd guy who likes to do it on their own. But, most of the time, they’ll get together and tick off what is a limited program, but just enough to make sure that they hit the ground running again in January.”

Twitter: @tom_king79