Western Bulldogs forward Mitch Wallis says the group is ready for their training sessions to intensify as season 2021 edges closer.
Monday presented the first opportunity for the squad to train as a full group, after some of the AFL COVID-19 protocols were eased.
Wallis said while he knows things will heat up quickly, the later pre-season start has been a welcome change in his eyes.
“We’ve come back in really good nick – players have been posting personal bests in running and weights tests, so we’re definitely in the shape we needed to be in,” the 28-year-old told Sam Edmund on SEN 1116.
“We had our first main session with everyone yesterday, and we played our first match practice, which you probably wouldn’t do in your first main training session, but the state that everyone has returned in has allowed us to do so.
“I’m definitely an advocate for (the later return date); just to get the work-life balance all sorted and to really refresh the players after a season like we’ve had.”
With an abundance of new faces around the club too, Wallis acknowledged the importance of getting the on-field elements right sooner than later.
“By the end of next week and the week after, it’s going to be a lot more focused on the match-play just to get our playing principles and some of our game-styles honed in on for those new guys,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces who are going to be important and play roles from round one, so we’ll manage it, but I think the team that puts their best foot forward in the first few rounds of the year will really set their season up and give themselves the best opportunities.
“We’re really excited at what we can do, but know the hard work is ahead of us – it’s not just going to happen.
“We’ve got the tools, but it’s just about sharpening them and really finding a way to play our best footy from the get-go.”
With the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Smith, Josh Dunkley, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and now Adam Treloar to name a few talented on-ballers, Wallis said he probably chose a good time to make the switch from midfield to forward.
“It was probably good timing on my behalf to go forward, because we’ve got so much depth which is exciting - it’s going to keep everyone on their toes,” he said.
“I know some of the players will have to adapt to different roles because you can’t play 10 in three positions, so we’ll have to deal with that, but I think it’s a really big positive (seeing) how much depth we’ve got and how many challenges we are going to bring to the opposition.”