NORTH Warrnambool Eagles are planning training sessions in Geelong to help ease the burden on their travelling players.
Geelong-based recruits Billie Smedts, Sam McLachlan and Darcy Keast took part in the Hampden league club’s first pre-season training session at Bushfield on Monday night.
The trio – returning to their home club in 2019 – made the most of the Melbourne Cup public holiday on Tuesday, opting to travel down the highway for new coach Adam Dowie’s introduction.
They were among a 45-strong group on track with another 40-odd supporters there to watch the players put through their paces.
Dowie said the Eagles, who will train until December 15 and then resume on January 26, wanted to help the likes of Smedts, McLachlan, Keast and Tom O’Leary, who is also returning to the club, immerse themselves with their teammates.
A November 24 session in Geelong is already on the schedule.
“We’ll train in Geelong a few times next year. On Tuesday nights we’ll get a bus down there,” Dowie said.
“We have to give back (to those players) because they’ve sacrificed a fair bit.
“The club’s been really proactive in getting players back and it’s a great thing from my point-of-view because the Geelong guys are all one-pointers (under the player points system).
“It’s pretty incredible and great recruiting when that happens.”
Dowie said he was surprised with the turnout to the Eagles’ first pre-season session.
“I must admit I was a little toey and nervous,” the six-time Hampden league premiership coach said.
“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm (within the group) and it’s the first step in a long journey.”
The Eagles also unveiled another new recruit with Dennington ruckman-forward Justin Wallace defecting from the Warrnambool and District league.
Dowie said he didn’t know much about Wallace as a player prior to training.
“I watched him last night and he is an exciting left-footer, big strong and athletic,” he said.
“He is pretty motivated and he said last night that he enjoyed it.”
The Warrnambool College teacher, who last coached powerhouse Koroit in 2016, said to “get individuals better, you have to raise the bar”.
“There needs to be hope for everyone, especially the young crop and teenagers,” he said.
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