Fresh approaches and fresh faces are holding the Bombers in good stead, according to the club’s General Manager – AFL, Daniel McPherson.
A busy off-season saw the Bombers bring in eight new players through the draft, free agency and trade periods, while strengthening their football department further with the appointment of David Rath as Coaching Innovation and Game Strategy Manager.
Pairing the new personnel with slight tweaks that have seen the club’s main training sessions moved to Saturdays, McPherson told SEN’s The Run Home that the club is looking to sustain their high energy throughout the pre-season.
“It’s a bit different to your traditional Monday-Wednesday-Friday, but the boys seem to have taken to it like ducks to water at this point,” McPherson said.
“It's just a bit of a change-up, the boys are still getting plenty of training into them. It’s a small sample size, but off the whole group only being back for one week, (you can already see) the energy they’ve come in with based off a different schedule.”
The arrival of Rath has held a positive impact on both new and experienced players, bringing a new perspective to the Dons’ footy program.
Joining the club from stints with Hawthorn during their 2013-15 premiership run and most recently as Learning Coordinator with the Wallabies, McPherson is impressed with the early effect of Rath on the wider playing group.
“It's great when you get a different set of eyes come in, and ‘Rathy’ (Rath) has certainly been that for our playing group already,” McPherson said.
“In the short time he’s been at the club, he’s had a strong impact on the way training is designed and rolled out, and he’s been terrific for the coaches in terms of the way they interact with the players and get instructions across to the boys.
“With his strong skill acquisition background, he’s also had a great impact on some of the guys who have been in the system for a long time.”
Another positive from the Dons’ pre-season has been the integrated return of budding young players such as Nik Cox, Harry Jones and Zach Reid, who are looking to reap an uninterrupted run post-injury.
While still early in the pre-season piece, McPherson is keen to watch their progress over the coming months.
“Those guys are all going really well, Cox and Jones are a mile ahead of where they were at this time last year,” McPherson said.
“We’re really excited about what Zach (Reid) can do, he’s put another couple of centimetres on (to get to) about 205cm, he moves and kicks really well.
“He’s had a rough trot over the last couple of years, but it’s so great to see him out and about on the training track at the minute, he’s got enormous upside.”
Adding to the Bombers’ young crop of talent, McPherson has also been buoyed by the four new draftees in Nate Caddy, Luamon Lual, Archie Roberts, and Vigo Visentini.
In the case of Caddy, a healthy level of confidence is already clear to see.
“(Caddy’s) got a bit of spunk about him. It’s always great to see when the young lads walk in with a bit of swagger,” McPherson said.
“Nate has confidence, but his performances particularly in the last 12 months suggest that there’s no problem with that, he can back it up on the field.
“All four boys that we brought in from the draft are terrific young fellas, which is the most important thing.”