WHEN Paddy Dow watched younger brother Thomson play for Richmond during the Marsh Community Series, he could see how quickly the 18-year-old had adapted to life in the AFL.
It was only in snippets, but Thomson, who was the Tigers' first pick at last year's NAB AFL Draft, didn't look out of place in the reigning premiers' line-up.
Now, the Carlton midfielder is getting a first-hand look at his sibling's improvement as the pair train alongside each other while back at their family's fruit farm during the AFL's shutdown period.
The Dows don't live together in Melbourne, but both headed back to the country last week once the AFL's indefinite break was announced due to the coronavirus spread and, along with younger brother Max, have been busy on the track.
"If I was in Melbourne I would've been training by myself with all these new guidelines and rules, so to have Thomson here and to be training with him is really good," Paddy told AFL.com.au.
"I've never liked training by myself, I feel like it can get a bit depressing at times but to have someone with you makes it so much more enjoyable.
"You have someone to kick the footy to and a lot of players would only be able to do it by themselves or with one other person, but because we live together we're allowed to have three of us having a kick which is a lot better."
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The Dows have both brought gym equipment home from their respective clubs and set it up in their shed, and are using the local Swan Hill football oval in northwest Victoria for sessions.
"Most of our programs are pretty different, but usually after the running we have a kick. We're always running around the oval, but just not with each other," said Paddy, who is into his third year at the Blues.
"It's interesting all the little things he's picked up straight away, and just the professionalism of it all. He's much more aware of his body and what he can and can't do, it's interesting how quickly you can learn it all.
"Even watching him play in the Marsh Community Series games, it's the first time I'd seen him play at that level and he's definitely capable of playing at the higher level which is good to see."
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Being back home has meant other things for the brothers. Parents Richard and Janine run a fruit farm, meaning the boys have been put to work while back under the roof.
"Dad's got me working a little bit, he hasn't been putting pressure on me but I feel like I want to just to do something so I'll get out and help a little bit. I was chopping some dead fruit trees and I think I might be doing that again today," Dow said.
"We've got the lemons almost ready, and we've just finished harvest for the nectarines and peaches so they're all done."
The season-opening clash between the Blues and Tigers featured only one Dow, with Paddy quiet in Carlton's loss, and the No.3 pick from 2017 says the club tried to prepare the players for playing in front of an empty MCG by including regular photos of the fan-less stadium in PowerPoint presentations and when training behind closed doors at Ikon Park highlighting the lack of atmosphere.
"It challenged a lot of boys, but we had a sports psych who was doing imagery with us and it actually helped a lot – just to see those things relieved a lot of the pressure knowing we were going to run out in front of no one," he said.