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Pre-season guide: Western Bulldogs

Mitch Wallis, Patrick Veszpremi and Daniel Giansiracusa during a recent training session - ${keywords}
Mitch Wallis, Patrick Veszpremi and Daniel Giansiracusa during a recent training session

Snapshot: The club has taken a stripped back approach to its pre-Christmas workload due to its young list, with a strong emphasis placed on the basics. Running, fitness and weights have been a staple under a new fitness team headed by Graham Lowe (high-performance manager) and Andy Barnett (strength coach). Game play and match simulation is set to feature strongly in the New Year. The addition of Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Mooney and club great Brad Johnson to the coaching panel has been a fillip, with the club particularly pleased with their work with first-to-third-year players.

Break: The players finished up for the Christmas break on December 21 and return on January 7.

Draftee watch: The Dogs are delighted with the way their draftees have approached the pre-season, and have gradually increased the workload on their developing bodies. Midfielder Nathan Hrovat revealed the biggest hurdle he'd encountered was sticking to a modified program. "I guess it was a bit frustrating at the start to be hindered a bit in what we did." he said. "Now being able to have the luxury of doing a bit more and probably mingling with the boys a bit more and earning the respect off them has been really good."

Burning: After struggling with injury and illness in past pre-seasons, Shaun Higgins is finally getting the preparation that will give him the best chance to make the most of his considerable talent. He played mainly as a half-forward in 2012, but the 24-year-old is eager to spend more time in the midfield this year, where his clean ball-use will complement Brendan McCartney's contested-style game-plan.

Medical room: The club is happy with the health of its list, with only Daniel Giansiracusa and Tom Williams on modified programs. Giansiracusa is progressing well from a knee injury late last  season while the injury-plagued Williams has overcome a foot complaint. Both are completing full running loads and participating in some contact work.

What they say: "We're happy with levels of the training, the standards and the behaviours on the track. Our second-and-third-year guys have really stood up, they know what footy is about now. They approached the first day of pre-season like they'd been going for a month. We'll really step up match simulation and contact after Christmas; there'll be some willing sessions in the New Year, but I'm sure they'll be primed. I think we've got a real understanding of what it takes to play AFL footy." – Assistant coach Brett Montgomery

NAB Cup schedule:
Round one: v Essendon and Collingwood, Etihad Stadium, Friday, February 15
Round two: v Hawthorn, Etihad Stadium, Friday, March 1
Round three: v Fremantle, Northam, Saturday, March 9