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Pre-season guide: Geelong

Josh Caddy has had an immediate impact at his new club - ${keywords}
Josh Caddy has had an immediate impact at his new club

Unlike the many clubs that headed overseas for training camps, the Cats did all their early work at Simonds Stadium. However, first- to seventh-year players headed to Falls Creek on December 12 for a gruelling nine-day camp that included numerous team-building challenges, road cycling and mountain biking. Geelong's pre-Christmas program for its main training group was all about getting miles into the players' legs. But a number of players who are coming back from serious injuries – Daniel Menzel, who is recovering from his second knee reconstruction, among them – gained strength by doing gymnastics at a local indoor stadium in Geelong.

Break: The Cats finished up on December 20 and return to training on January 4.

Draftee watch: Young Tasmanian Jackson Thurlow, the Cats' first selection in the recent NAB AFL Draft, has had a slow start to his first pre-season at the club. He has been recovering from the broken thumb and fractured cheekbone he suffered while playing for Launceston in the Tasmanian State League finals. But Thurlow travelled to Falls Creek for the pre-season camp, as did fellow draftee Brad Hartman, who copped some friendly banter from his teammates after crashing into some shrubs during a mountain bike ride.

Burning: Former Gold Coast midfielder Josh Caddy, who joined the Cats during the trade period, has made a big impression. Caddy was one of the standout performers during the Falls Creek camp. He finished third in a tough road cycling time-trial and also led the way when the players did their football drills at the Mount Beauty footy oval.

Medical room: Veteran midfielders Jimmy Bartel and James Kelly are yet to join in with the main training group. Bartel started the pre-season in a moon boot after he played through the second half of the season with a stress fracture in his foot, while Kelly had surgery on both his hips during the off-season break. But the club remains hopeful that the three-time premiership players will be available for round one of the NAB Cup.

What they say: "We got a really hard six-week block of training into the boys when pre-season started. Then it was great to take all the younger boys up to Falls Creek again. It's a fantastic training venue and the players really enjoy it. It's a really good opportunity for the boys to get together and bond as well, so to have our draftees and our mature-age recruits like Hamish McIntosh and Jared Rivers on the camp was really valuable." – development coach Nigel Lappin

NAB Cup schedule:
Round one: v West Coast and Fremantle, Patersons Stadium, Saturday, February 16
Round two: v Adelaide, Simonds Stadium, Saturday, March 2
Round three: v North Melbourne, Simonds Stadium, Saturday, March 9

The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL