This article was originally published on Joel Selwood’s blog, which can be accessed here.
While opinions on the merits of the pre-season are varied, we certainly got everything we wanted from the NAB Challenge.
After two wins (Adelaide and Carlton) and a narrow loss to Gold Coast we are well placed to tackle the season proper.
We are relatively injury free, we got game time into the right players and the new faces enjoyed the experience.
Everyone is buzzing about the form of big Mitch Clark and Tom Hawkins and while this combination is coming along a bit quicker than I thought it would, I’m not that surprised to be honest.
They’ve been working together like this all pre-season and given how professional they both are it was only a matter of time before things clicked. They aren’t going to dominate every week and we need to find other avenues to goal, but it’s definitely a positive for us.
Nakia Cockatoo is another who’s getting a bit of attention and when he goes on the sort of runs as he did against the Blues, it’s not hard to understand why.
When he received the handball and took off from the defensive 50 it was a case of ‘catch me if you can’. I’m really excited to have a front row seat for Nakia’s work for the remainder of my career. He’s got gears like I’ve never seen before and it’s so exciting to have a player like that who is ready to go.
— AFL (@AFL) March 22, 2015
However, improvement in 2015 won’t just come from the new faces, having Jimmy Bartel and James Kelly back through the midfield rotation in the pre-season has been a major boost.
The great thing about these guys is their versatility and the addition of Clark has allowed Jimmy to return to the midfield. He came on as a sub on Sunday and dominated. There’s no doubt these old cats are still learning new tricks!
One thing we need to work on, and it was a focus of ours during the half-time break against Carlton, is not going into lapses during games.
In the second quarter we led by more than five goals, but after the Blues kicked four goals in a row the margin was just seven points at the long break. It was a strong reminder of where we need to get better because against other sides that sort of lapse can see the game slip away.
This is something we’ll speak about in the post-game review but from there it’s all about preparing for Easter Monday. Bring on the Hawks!