St Kilda has reported back for duty for the first time in 2017, beginning the New Year with a traditional three km time-trial around the club’s headquarters in Seaford on Friday morning.
Endurance king Jarryn Geary continued to set the pace over the distance, leading the field home narrowly in front of athletic utility Daniel McKenzie, who finished last season full of run.
Recent draftee Ed Phillips rounded out the top three with an impressive effort in hot conditions at Linen House Centre, while midfielders Nathan Freeman and Jack Newnes also finished inside the first handful, continuing their strong pre-seasons to date.
St Kilda High Performance Manager, Matt Hornsby, said a large chunk of the playing group who tested on Friday morning set new personal best times, indicating that the players had put the work in over the festive season.
“For all our draftees it was their first time-trial and we were really impressed with how they performed as a group. But taking them out of the equation, we had 13 players perform PB’s so that’s a real positive for the group straight away,” Hornsby told saints.com.au on Friday morning.
“We spoke pre-Christmas about the fact we’re in good shape and to have the confidence that they’ve been training strongly and putting in the work, so today was another tick to give them the confidence that they’ve been doing the work. It also gives us confidence that the groups done the right thing over the break.”
While seasoned endurance beast Geary, who is one of a handful of leading candidates to replace Nick Riewoldt as captain this season, crossed the finish line first once again, Hornsby was pleased to see some youngsters nipping at his heels.
“It’s good to see that while ‘Gears’ still holds the title, he is being challenged by a couple of the younger boys as well,” Hornsby said.
“Dan McKenzie and Ed Phillips, Nathan Freeman as well and then the group of really strong runners in Mav, Seb Ross and ‘Newnesy’ were chasing hard; there’s a core group of strong runners now.”
After a two week break over the Christmas and New Years period, the Saints kick-started a crucial phase of the pre-season on Friday, with all facets of the program set to rise a notch in the coming weeks ahead of the opening JLT Community Series game against Port Adelaide on February 23.
“It’s certainly the most challenging block physically because there is still the best part of six or seven weeks before games start,” Hornsby said.
“There’s still quite a long time to train so the volume of work is high and the intensity of the work is high and it’s invariably in hot weather, so it’s physically a tough month. But if they get through January well it sets them up for the season.”
3km Time-trial 6/1/17
1. Jarryn Geary
2. Daniel McKenzie
3. Ed Phillips
4. Nathan Freeman
5. Jack Newnes