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Long pushing for regular spot

David O'Neill  February 9, 2018 5:20 PM

Livewire forward Ben Long impressed in Friday's match simulation at Trevor Barker Oval.

Livewire forward Ben Long impressed in Friday's match simulation at Trevor Barker Oval.

I know I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me to be in Richo’s plans for Round 1.

After four senior games in his debut season, Ben Long is determined to be a regular fixture in the senior side in 2018.

With speed and agility to burn, Long has increased his endurance levels, while adding strength and size to his frame during the summer.

The hard work appears to be paying off with the livewire one of the standouts in Friday’s extensive match practice session.

Long regularly found space at half forward in the three 20-minute periods but it was in traffic where he impressed the most.

The 20-year-old set up Josh Battle for a set shot in the opening minute of the first 20-minute period, a little shimmy at full tilt enough to shake his opponent.

Minutes later he baulked two defenders to create a scoring opportunity from nothing, narrowly missing a boundary-line snap.

But perhaps the most impressive feature of Long’s performance was his ability to maintain his presence throughout, clearly benefiting from an improved tank. 

Long said the match simulation was the best part of pre-season training.

“We talk a lot about our structures and how we want to go about it indoors, but when you get out there it’s a chance to put into action,” he said.

“I’ve personally come up to a different level of fitness and I can feel that out there in the match simulation stuff.

“I’m still building my fitness and strength and looking to take it up a notch.

“I know I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me to be in Richo’s plans for Round 1.”

Long is a strong chance to feature in St Kilda’s AFL X tournament with the small forward the prototype for a game that demands a high level of speed and skill.