Deniliquin Rams co-coaches Troy Bartlett and Sam Hall couldn’t have been happier with the positive feeling around the club during their pre-Christmas training.
The club had 49 senior age players attend at least one training during the month-long effort which finished with an Edward River boat cruise night on Friday, December 14.
Hall said he and Bartlett tried to make pre-Christmas training as much fun as possible as they prepare for the 2019 Murray Football League season.
‘‘One of our core values as a team is to have fun but work hard together, and we did that,’’ Hall said.
‘‘We had a training night at the Deni Car Club for example where the boys had to push a car around the track as a team and afterwards they were taken on some hot laps of the track by drivers Terry Maher and Peter Short while some other Car Club members cooked us a barbecue.
‘‘Then we had a relaxed boat cruise where we went from McLean Beach to the Boat Club and stayed out there for an hour or so, and we also had a ‘meet the coaches’ night to start the pre-season — it was a lot of fun.
‘‘It’s nights like these that bring the group closer together, and what’s also given the boys a lift is having young guys like Will Shaw, John Bowie, Jake McManus, Ryan MacDonald and Kyle Elphick coming out of the thirds and training consistently and showing speed and skills on the track.’’
Hall said it was also ‘‘a buzz’’ for the returning players to see some new faces on the training track.
‘‘We had talented young guys like John Allitt, Ryan Brunker and Dave Smith turn up for the pre-Christmas training and they impressed us with their enthusiasm, which was great, and we’re looking forward to seeing them improve and push for senior selection.
‘‘We also have guys like Hamish Ross and Scott Atley returning to the club and working hard on the track. It gives everyone at the club a lift to see some new faces.
‘‘Some of our regular players who impressed before Christmas were Ricky Gittens, Matty MacDonald, John Anstee, Brayden Hall, Jayden and Liam Pitts, Aiden Free, Mick Barnett, Oli Draffin, Brett Rose, Sam Willoughby, Benny Irwin and Ash Morris – they really led the way and were consistently on the track.
‘‘It was all very positive but we also know it means nothing if we don’t get consistent numbers on the track starting next week and work really hard on our fitness and our game plan.
‘‘We have a lot of ground to make up but it’s a fresh start with a relatively new playing group, so it’s exciting times ahead.”
The Rams return to training next Tuesday, January 15 and will train each Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm.
Hall said they expect to have an overnight training camp in the coming month and at least two practice matches in March before their season kicks off with a home game against Echuca United on April 6.
The Rams are also hopeful of signing more players after enticing former premiership stars Anthony Bull, Tim Holobowski, Nick Howe and Josh Whelan back to the club.
‘‘We’re still talking to a couple of guys who we’re hopeful of signing, but most of the recruiting has probably been done,’’ Hall said.
‘‘That’s not to say we wouldn’t welcome anyone still looking for a game. Ensuring we have plenty of numbers has been a big focus, and anyone who gets on board can be assured of a great atmosphere at our club.’’
Anyone interested in joining the Rams in 2019 can contact Hall on 0408425777.