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Murray Bushrangers players are put to the test

This season's crop of Murray Bushrangers found out what it takes to make the elite level on Saturday when took part in the TAC Cup Fitness Testing Day.

MATTHEW GALEA March 11, 2014 4:15am

Murray Bushrangers players go through the motions in the beep test.


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If the latest crop of Murray Bushrangers were intimidated on Saturday, they did a good job of hiding it.

Out of their comfort zone and into the pressure cooker that is TAC Cup Fitness Testing Day, there was plenty to be daunted by.

Held at Maribyrnong Secondary College, the fitness testing day may as well have been the first step of the season towards this year’s National Draft.

All TAC Cup teams were put through their paces, not only competing for places within their own sides, but also looking to impress the host of recruitment officers from AFL clubs in attendance.

‘‘They can be measured against every other player in the TAC Cup at this stage of the game from an athletic and physical perspective and that continues on in games where the stats and vision are scrutinised every week,’’ Murray Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier said.

‘‘There’s no place for them to hide.’’

That was a message that was made clear from the start.

Before the testing started, the 47-strong Bushies squad sat through two-and-a-half hours of lectures, which covered anti-doping, responsibility and respect, and racial vilification.

‘‘Responsibility’’ and ‘‘discipline’’ were perhaps the two words used most by the speakers, which included former Sydney Swan Ed Barlow.

By the end of the talks, it was clear while athletic ability and skill are paramount to the realisation of any AFL dreams these promising youngsters might have, so too is the character of the individual.

In many ways, it is what the players do when they think no-one is watching that counts as much as what they can do when they cross the white line.

For some, such as over-age star Nathan Drummond, the everyday scrutiny has become comfortable, but for others, such as Seymour’s Josh Schache or Nathalia’s Tom Nihill, it is a whole new ball game.

‘‘It’s probably a bit daunting for some of these kids; seeing so many people watching, seeing club recruiters walking around which they might not have seen before, but it’s all about just being yourself,’’ Drummond said.

‘‘I remember when I did it for the first time, you saw these guys in their polos and you thought, ‘this is awesome’, but they’re looking at 100 different kids, so you can’t get too carried away with it.’’

Following the education segment of the day, the players took on a brief warm-up under the watchful eyes of Bushrangers’ high-performance manager Matt Glossop, before heading into the sports hall.

The players were tested in their agility, vertical jump, and 20m sprint and underwent the gruelling beep test, as well having their height, weight and skin folds measured.

According to Glossop, anything under 8.2sec in the agility test — which comprised of zigzagging between five poles across a short distance — was considered elite, while there was a 3sec benchmark in the 20m sprint.

Anything above 70cm in the vertical jump was a good result, while the average beep test score stood at about 13.5, with midfielders expected to score between 14 and 15.

Not all the travelling party was able to test, such as Benalla’s Nick Mellington, who said just being a part of the day was worth the trip.

‘‘It’s just really good for the team to measure themselves against everyone else and for the team to see where it stands against everyone else,’’ Mellington said.

‘‘It’s a new experience for some of the guys, but it’s the first real team-bonding exercise of the season and it’s not until the end of the weekend that you find out how everyone acts.’’

With testing done, the players were treated to a pizza each before making the long trip back to Wangaratta where the boys continued their training camp on Sunday.

The TAC Cup starts in 18 days for the Bushrangers, who will take on Bendigo Pioneers at Deakin Reserve, and Ogier is feeling good about the season ahead.

‘‘We’re taller than we’ve previously been in the last four years since I’ve been here,’’ Ogier said.

‘‘If we can get the ball up to those talls, I think it will help us, but it will help us all around the ground with a number of tall players who are also very athletic.’’

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