Early start works for Demons: Bailey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Early start works for Demons: Bailey

By Robert Grant 13/10/2008 04:21:25 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne might have shocked its AFL rivals by starting pre-season training two weeks after the grand final - but coach Dean Bailey said the move was based on science and consultation.

Bailey has strongly defended the move, which he said was the result of lengthy talks with the players - who voted in favour of an early return - and expert advice.

The club administration, the AFL Players Association and the team were all involved in the radically early pre-season kick-off.

Bailey said the 2008 wooden spooners were keen to begin light work early but would have a longer break off over Christmas to compensate.

"We had an innovations committee who looked at when the best time off players should have - they looked at athletics, a couple of other sports," he said.

"They came back and said `ideally, because this is a unique game, you've got to have four to five weeks off straight away, because it's a mentally tough game and a physically demanding game'.

"But they said after about two-and-a-half weeks, if they haven't done a lot their fitness starts to worsen.

"So we spoke to the players, the players' association, we spoke to (team leader) Cameron Bruce and he went back to the group and they voted."

Melbourne endured a dreadful season in 2008, winning only three games and picking up the wooden spoon for the first time since 1997.

The club was now looking forward to moving to its new training base at Casey Fields in Melbourne's outer south-east after years of shifting between various venues including the Junction Oval, Trinity College and Sandringham.

"We'll actually have a football ground that we can train on, with goalposts," said Bailey.

"That's a real big step forward. About 13 other clubs will be sitting and looking at this and going `well, we've had a ground for 20 years to train on'.

"It's an important aspect for us to have a ground with goalposts with nets behind them and we'll get that access in November."

Bailey said the club had also hired two new trainers and changed its training regime.

"We're going to give ourselves the best chance to get fit.

"We were uncompetitive and not fit enough last year and we have a chance to rectify those two things - and that's all about starting today, no other reason," he said.

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