BURNING UP THE TRACK! It seems as though every AFL club and their players have had a time trial in the past week or two. Results have been coming through daily about which player has set a personal best or dethroned the previous time trial king at their respective club. It wasn't all that long ago that the media didn't report on the time trials, but in more recent times it has become the 'barometer' as to how well a player is travelling - or not so, in some cases.
The legendary time trials are generally run over either 2 or 3km distances, with most clubs these days opting for the 2km time trial to better reflect what a player does in a game situation. It's handy for us fantasy coaches as well, because we get to see some of the young guns coming through who are keen as mustard, trying their best to show coaches they can mix it with the seasoned players. We also get to see which players have been grazing in a good paddock over the off season and are struggling to keep up the pace, as well as those players that are potentially in line for more midfield minutes and have improved their engine.
We have to take these results with a grain of salt as coaches however, as it's obviously not the be all end all for a round one spot in the team. But what it can give us is a great insight into how well a player has prepared themselves for the season ahead. As a fantasy coach, it certainly makes your decision easier knowing that a player you have been looking at is performing on the track and setting a personal best time.
Below I have tracked the results of each team and noted some of the more relevant performances from a fantasy coach's perspective. Stay tuned for part two as well!
The Crows ran their 2km time trials on December 4 with running defender Jake Kelly taking out first place. Riley Knight was the champ in the first time trial and wasn't required to run in the second trial - so you would think he could have backed up his first effort if he needed to. Other noteable performers were Rory Adkins and David McKay who round out the top three, while former GWS Giant Curtley Hampton impressed in what is his first full pre season for the club. Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker also returned earlier than they needed to and completed the run.
1. Jake Kelly
2. Rory Adkins
3. David Mackay
Tough in and under player Nick Robertson took out first place and a personal best for the Lions, which was also his second successive victory in the 3km time trial. While former rising star winner Lewis Taylor came in a close second place to put his hand up for more midfield minutes in 2017. Other news to come out was that tall forward Josh Schache ran a personal best and Allen Christenson has come back in ripping shape to also run a PB.
1. Nick Robertson
2. Lewis Taylor
The new reigning time trial king at the Pies is running defender/wingman Tom Phillips who retained his title over long standing winner Steele Sidebottom. Josh Smith took out third place, but it was smooth sailing from Phillips who never looked like being threatened over the 2km journey at Olympic Park. Both Levi Greenwood and Trav Varcoe set personal best times and were impressive in the run from all reports.
1. Tom Phillips
2. Steele Sidebottom
3. Josh Smith
Versatile forward Paddy Ambrose has claimed victory in Essendon's 2km time trial with the running man and returning midfielder Brent Stanton coming in a close second. David Zaharakis round out the top three. It's a great sign that the banned Bomber in Stanton has retained his running capacity and should again be considered with his 10% discount in AFL Fantasy. Zaha could have made his intentions clear to the returning mids that he wants to stay in the midfield rotations come round one with that effort. While it was also reported that Job Watson ran his best time over that distance to consolidate the fact that he is serious about his return to AFL.
1. Patrick Ambrose
2. Brent Stanton
3. David Zaharakis
New recruit Brad Hill has taken out Freo's 3km time trial in what was a clinical run for the former junior distance athlete. Hill is known for his elite endurance while running the wings at Hawthorn, but he waivered in season 2016 and looks set to restamp himself as one of the AFL's premier wingmen. Coming in second place was defender Tommy Sheridan who might be set for some more midfield minutes in season 2017. I was chatting with the 24 year old last week as he made mention of the fact he would like to be part of the midfield rotations and has been training with them during the pre season at times also. Third place went to Cam Sutcliffe who will be looking for more regular time in Fremantle's best 22 after what has been a solid pre season for the 24 year old.
1. Brad Hill
2. Tom Sheridan
3. Cam Sutcliffe
The yoghurt must be working a treat for Kade Kolodjashnij as he edged out the draft combine record holder Josh Schoenfeld in the Sun's 3km time trial. Coming off an interrrupted season in 2016, Kade has been told to eat more pro biotics for his stomach issues by doctors and it seems to be paying dividends for the running defender. Back in November it was new recruit Michael Barlow who set the pace, coming in first to break the 7 minute barrier for the 2km time trial. Barlow is certainly putting his best foot forward to replace the injured Rischitelli in that midfield space. Others to mention are Matt Shaw, Aaron Hall and Pearce Hanley who all ran PB's in the 2km time trial. Touk Miller was taken back by Kolodjashnij's performance in the 3km, saying it was 'quite an impressive effort'.
1. Kade Kolodjashnij (Barlow 1st in 2km)
2. Josh Schoenfeld
Possibly the best gut runner in the competition, Tom Scully took home the title as time trial king for the GIants over 3km. His endurance has been well reported ever since he was drafted at number one for the Demons but he has certainly gone from strength to strength coming off arguably his most consistent season in 2016. Hoping to secure either full back or centre half back, Adam Tomlinson came in second place - reiterating how flexible he could become in the Giants back six. New rookie recruit Tendai Mzungu round out the top three and upstaged some of the young talented Giants in his quest to perhaps replace the suspended Lachie Whitfield on the wing. He will need to be upgraded as he is rookie listed, so watch this space. In the 1st to 4th year players, new recruit and former decathlete Jake Stein took out first place with Jacob Hopper, Matt Kennedy and Zac Williams trailing behind. Aidan Corr was also a noteable finisher after his 2016 was ruined by injury - he is tipped to take the place of retired defender Joel Patful.
1. Tom Scully
2. Adam Tomlinson
3. Tendai Mzungu
Defender come tagger Tom Bugg held off skipper Nathan Jones to win the Demons 3km time trial. While in what was his best result since being at the club, Alex Neal-Bullen rounded out the top three in what was a tight race - all three broke the 10 minute barrier. A noteable ansentee from the race was usual place getter Tom McDonald who is currently on a modified training program for the pre season. Power forward Jesse Hogan clocked in for a personal best time in what could see him roaming up the ground more often to take some uncontested marks in a Riewoldt type role.
1. Tom Bugg
2. Nathan Jones
3. Alex Neal-Bullen
Possibly the biggest upset of the time trials to date this pre season - emerging forward/midfield Mason Wood claimed the crown of time trial king ahead of the much fancied Sam Gibson who finished up in third place behind rookie Will Fordham. It was a remarkable effort from the powerfully built 23 year old who has clearly added another string to his already impressive athletic CV. Wood has all the hallmarks of an emerging midfielder with his size, speed, power and now endurance - there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to make the transition from inconsistent forward to full time mid. Don't rule out a return to time trial king status for Gibson however, the now 30 year old stepped straight into it after little preparation and coming off some sleepless nights with his newborn. He'll be eager for redemtion.
1. Mason Wood
2. Will Fordham
3. Sam Gibson
Note: Carlton, Geelong, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs are yet to release their time trial results.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2...