Why AFL play­ers can’t re­ally take a hol­i­day

Sunday Herald Sun - - AFL - TONY ARM­STRONG

THERE is a per­cep­tion AFL play­ers get 8-10 weeks off a year, dur­ing which they don’t work all that hard.

That is a flawed per­cep­tion, as any­one in the in­dus­try will tell you.

Pre-sea­son is hard. So hard you have to do your own pre­sea­son be­fore it ac­tu­ally starts just to come back in good enough shape to train at the level re­quired.

I’ll never for­get the nights out with mates, watch­ing them tuck into late-night bur- els, which in­di­cate what they’ve done when no­body is around — the ul­ti­mate test of pro­fes­sion­al­ism. Com­pare this to any­one else on hol­i­days, who can eat and drink what­ever they want, as long as they show up ready to work when they re­turn.

I’d al­ways look on in won­der at Scott Pendle­bury and the man­ner in which he would present him­self. You wouldn’t have known he’d had a break.

How­ever, at Ade­laide Gra­ham John­cock al­ways looked to come back over­weight and not run­ning at his best.

It would stress the fit­ness and coach­ing staff, and the lead­er­ship group, would ques­tion his pro­fes­sion­al­ism and at­ti­tude, but he knew he could turn it around and be se­lected for Round 1.

Re­gard­less of how well you are run­ning and lift­ing weights, if your skin­folds are up you will be ques­tioned in front of the group.

You will be asked how hard you’ve worked and whether you have done every­thing pos­si­ble to be in the best shape.

This means there comes a time dur­ing your hol­i­days when you don’t en­joy them. There is a clock in your head count­ing the days left un­til you re­turn to work. When you can count the days on one hand, you start feel­ing a knot in your stom­ach about the 2km time-trial, hop­ing the work you’ve done is enough. You can’t sleep the night be­fore, but you will sleep like a baby in the com­ing weeks. You’ll run more than a marathon over a week — at


There isn’t re­ally a break for AFL play­ers, who must en­sure they’re ready to go for day one of pre-sea­son. Bray­den May­nard, Darcy Moore, Caleb Daniel, Scott Pendle­bury, Chris­tian Salem, James Harmes, An­gus Brayshaw and Paddy McCartin found out this week if they had done enough. Pic­tures: JAY TOWN, NICOLE GARMSTON, MICHAEL KLEIN gers while I’d go with­out be­cause, even af­ter a few beers, I couldn’t get skin­folds out of my head.

You get tar­gets coaches ex­pect you to hit on day one — and of­ten they are ridicu­lous.

Some play­ers get a time-trial tar­get quicker than their per­sonal best — usu­ally set in the last time-trial of pre-sea­son.

They will be asked to re­turn with cer­tain sk­in­fold lev-

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