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2013 pre-season grind begins for AFL clubs

Peter Sumich watches Fremantle training in December - ${keywords}
Peter Sumich watches Fremantle training in December
MONDAY marks back to work day for most AFL players with all clubs returning to pre-season training following the Christmas break.

New draftees and players with one or two years' experience at a number of clubs took part in training sessions throughout the first week of January, but Monday will be the first time most clubs welcome their entire lists for 2013.

Bernie Vince and Jared Petrenko will return to full training with the Crows after post-season surgeries. Ricky Henderson, Matthew Jaensch and Luke Thompson also return from modified pre-Christmas programs.

The Brisbane Lions will hold a session at Giffin Park, Coorparoo at 8:30am with midfielder Daniel Rich to front the media at 10am. A number of the Lions' younger players have already been hard at work, with defender Mitch Golby telling the club's website the group is 'humming'.

Carlton players return to work on Monday with the Blues holding an open training session on Tuesday, starting at 8:30am.

Word out of Visy Park is Blues players are loving life under Mick Malthouse, who has the task of helping find a new skipper after Chris Judd decided to stand down as skipper in December.

Andrew Carrazzo is favoured to win the role.

Collingwood returns to training on Tuesday following its Utah high altitude camp in December. The club's new Olympic Park training facility - next door to the Westpac Centre - is rapidly taking shape.

The Pies will hold a family day on February 2 at Victoria Park.

James Hird begins his third year in charge of the Bombers when the club returns to training on Monday. The Dons say their new training base near Melbourne Airport is on track to be ready for use later in 2013.

Fremantle, like rivals West Coast, resumed 2013 preparations last week.

Freo veterans Aaron Sandilands and Luke McPharlin trained strongly before Christmas, while skipper Matthew Pavlich is returning from back surgery. Anthony Morabito completed some strong running sessions before Christmas and the club is confident he will be able to rebuild his career after two knee reconstructions. Hayden Crozier was said to have shone on the track before the break.

The Eagles are sweating on the fitness of several stars, including Daniel Kerr and Nic Naitanui, who are each set to miss the NAB Cup after post-season surgery.

In better news for the Eagles, Mark Nicoski and Mark LeCras are back in full training after their respective 2012 seasons were destroyed by injury. Early reports from January training say midfielder Chris Masten has led the way.

Geelong already has players on the park. A number of star Cats trained in the heat on Friday and will continue preparations for season 2013 on Monday.

Recruit Hamish McIntosh took part in limited training during the club's Falls Creek camp in December and continues to build his fitness after knee surgery last season.

The Cats will hold opening training sessions on January 8, 15, 22 and 29 with gates opening at 9am for a 10am start. Players will be available for autograph signings following the one-hour training sessions.

Gold Coast returns to training with young midfield star Harley Bennell likely to grab much of the media attention following his arrest in Western Australia on New Year's Day.

Kevin Sheedy's final year as senior coach of Greater Western Sydney officially begins when the Giants hit the track. Leon Cameron is set to take charge of the club in 2014.

Hawthorn begins its bid to go one better in 2013 after defeat to the Sydney Swans in the 2012 Grand Final. The entire Hawks squad will train at the Ricoh Centre on Monday.

Melbourne will hold a morning training session at Casey Fields with much of the focus on players Lynden Dunn, James Frawley and Jeremy Howe. The trio will front the club's leaders after being booted out of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG after an apparent boozy day in bay 13.

Melbourne's younger players began training last week.

North Melbourne players return from the Christmas break focussed on improving on the club's eighth position in 2012.

The Roos will train at Craigieburn and Princes Park until February when they return to the redeveloped Aegis Park. 

Port Adelaide has signed over 15,000 members for the 2013 season. The club is set for a torrid pre-season training block under new fitness boss Darren Burgess. Several Power players began their 2013 campaign on January 3.

Port Adelaide forward Jay Schultz said the lead up to Christmas was among the most intense of the eleven AFL pre-seasons he has done.

Richmond, meanwhile, has signed almost 30,000 members, with the yellow and black faithful anticipating a climb into the top eight in 2013. A number of players have already returned to training in the past week.

Following a pre-Christmas camp in Colorado, St Kilda's entire squad resumes training on Monday.  

The Sydney Swans will also hit the track on Monday. The club was happy with the way players came back to training before Christmas, but coach John Longmire has demanded improvement if the feats of 2012 are to be repeated.

Like most clubs, Swans players were given individual programs to follow over the break. Co-captain Adam Goodes has been on a modified program due to the knee injury he suffered in the Grand Final but is understood to be close to a return to full training.

Ayce Cordy says the Western Bulldogs will focus on addressing the club's shortcomings from 2012 when training resumes on Monday.

Cordy told News Limited Bulldogs players had met with coach Brendan McCartney in a bid to tailor a program designed on making the team more competitive in the areas they were deficient in last season, among them winning the contested ball.