MANY of the AFL's younger players hit the track on Monday and were welcomed back with a 2km time trial to kickstart their pre-season.

At Waverley Park, father-son Hawk Finn Maginness showed off his impressive endurance abilities with a second consecutive time-trial crown, while at North Melbourne new recruit Jaidyn Stephenson took part but it was gun midfielder Jy Simpkin who stole the show with a comfortable win. 

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Truck takes the wheel, Hawks, Roos veterans surprise young guns

Mitch Cleary with the latest news as clubs return to training ahead of 2021

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Gold Coast's Josh Corbett crushed the field in his club's time trial, and Jack Bowes, Noah Anderson, Connor Budarick and Izak Rankine all caught the eye.

Gold Coast players, with the help of pacesetters, during their time trial on Monday. Picture: AFL Photos
Matt Rowell looks on during Gold Coast's first training session of the pre-season at Somerset College training oval on December 7. Picture: AFL Photos

Maginness, the son of two-time premiership defender Scott Maginness, led the way at Hawthorn ahead of Changkuoth Jiath, with Dylan Moore – fresh off rejoining the club as a rookie – coming in third.

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Other senior players at the Hawks' training session included veteran Shaun Burgoyne, Chad Wingard, Tom Mitchell and Jarman Impey.

Early birds: Chad Wingard and Shaun Burgoyne hit the track for a pre-season session on Monday, December 7. Picture: Getty Images
Tom Mitchell getting a feel for the Sherrin again. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

At North Melbourne, new recruit and former Bulldog Lachie Young made a strong first impression, finishing second.

Luke Davies-Uniacke, Bailey Scott and Curtis Taylor rounded out the top five, all under the watchful eye of new coach David Noble.

Jy Simpkin in the lead during North Melbourne's 2km time trial at Arden Street on December 7. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
Jaidyn Stephenson during North Melbourne's 2km time trial at Arden Street on December 7, 2020. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

In Sydney, re-listed rookie Robbie Fox retained his mantle as the club's best endurance runner, winning the 2km time trial ahead of Matt Ling and Ben Ronke

Several of the Swans' big-name veterans including Lance Franklin and Sam Reid joined the younger players on the track at Lakeside Oval on the first day of pre-season. 

Lance Franklin in action at Lakeside Oval on Monday. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos
Sam Reid in action during the Swans' return to training on Monday. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Captain Dyson Heppell's appearance at the first day of Essendon's pre-season training has given Ben Rutten a boost as he takes over as the Bombers' coach.

Heppell was a smiling figure at Tullamarine on Monday as the Bombers' first-to-fourth year players returned to the training track.

Veteran teammate Michael Hurley was also back early.

All smiles for Dyson Heppell. Picture: AFL Photos
Lachlan Jonson and Michael Hurley running laps in December, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos
Kyle Langford and Jordan Ridley side by side, with Ned Cahill hot on their heels during an Essendon time trial at The Hangar on December 7. Picture: AFL Photos

Over at Greater Western Sydney, last year's winner Nick Shipley led the club's 2km time trial for three laps but was overtaken by star midfielder Tim Taranto who hit the line first. 

Xavier O'Halloran also grabbed a podium finish, while Tom Green was a surprise inclusion at the front of the pack in fourth place, and 2020 debutant Jack Buckley rounded out the top five.

Nick Shipley leads the way during the Giants' time trial at Sydney Olympic Park on December 7. Picture: Getty Images
Brent Daniels falls to ground as exhausted Giants hit the line after the club's time trial at Sydney Olympic Park on December 7. Picture: Getty Images
Connor Idun collapses after the Giants' 2km time trial at Sydney Olympic Park on December 7, 2020. Picture: Getty Images