A 'GAME of Thrones' themed pre-season player draft is driving the Western Bulldogs' endeavours to return to finals football.
Descending on Torquay on Monday for day one of a four-day training camp, the Dogs completed a series of beach activities, aimed at building fitness and team morale.
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Split into four teams, defender Matt Suckling revealed the popular TV program – based on four families – had provided the catalyst for the summer's activities.
"We do it most pre-seasons, we've got four captains, had a draft and picked teams," Suckling said.
"It was Game of Thrones themed (this year) and it was picking characters out of Game of Thrones as different players."
"All events go towards points and the end of pre-season, usually (we) have a winner and some prizes. It boosts morale, you get to hang out with guys you might not hang as much with.
"It's always nice to get away from the club and do something different."
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After a tiring session at Whitten Oval on Monday morning, the Dogs were put through drills such as a digging treasure hunt, relay races and the popular tug-of-war – drawn up by assistant Ash Hansen.
The group containing captain Easton Wood, Liam Picken, Mitch Wallis, Dale Morris, Patrick Lipinski, Josh Schache and Ed Richards claimed a come-from-behind victory in the tug-of-war.
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Picken completed the entire session, able to take part in all non-contact work as he continues to recover from an entire 2018 season missed with concussion symptoms.
Midfielder Lukas Webb was on hand for parts of the afternoon, still sporting a neck brace that he hopes to have removed around March following an injury sustained in the VFL in July.
Tom Liberatore and Lachie Hunter. Picture: Getty Images
Suckling, in the midst of his 13th pre-season, has only just returned to full running after a delayed start to the summer due to missing the back half of 2018 with Achilles soreness.
While he said there was a fantastic "vibe" around the group as they look to play finals for the first time since the 2016 premiership, Suckling said he was also enjoying the company of a dual premiership teammate.
Arriving during the NAB AFL Trade Period, Taylor Duryea looks poised for a role alongside Suckling in defence – the pair re-uniting under their former Hawthorn assistant coach Luke Beveridge.
"It's nice to have a familiar face around, he drove me down here today and we're rooming together, so we've been hard to separate at the moment," he said.
"He's fitting in really well at the moment and looks good.
"He's a really versatile player and I think 'Bevo' (Beveridge) really likes that, guys that can play multiple roles.
"He's a hard-bodied guy that can play down back, or we've seen him play forward and kick goals as well.
"He's probably training more down back at the moment but can play anywhere."
Suckling highlighted NAB AFL Rookie Draft pick Lachie Young as the player to have stood out most to date – with No.7 national draft pick Bailey Smith showing up a few of his older teammates.
"He's come straight in and has got the best rig at the club already so that's one for him. A few guys like myself don't have the shirt off around him," Suckling said.
After Thursday, the Dogs will head off on their three-week break over Christmas, as stipulated by the AFLPA, before the club embarks on a pre-season training camp in Queensland in January.
As for Suckling, the new year brings in wedding season, with the defender off to celebrate the nuptials of current teammate Mitch Wallis and also attend the marriage of former teammate Isaac Smith.