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Sunday, January 17 2021 @ 05:25 pm ACDT

Footy Wrap boys in training

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The comedic duo of Jeff and Paul that brought you the Footy Wrap on Youtube in 2007 are in training for the new season. In what seems to have become an annual event, AFL club the Western Bulldogs invited the media to a training day in which they got to experience a typical day in the life of an AFL footballer. Jeff had no pretensions but Paul was ready to make his bid to become the AFL's most unlikely rookie....

Jeff and Paul meet the Western Bulldogs

Jeff's full report can be read below.

Rocket’s "no rockstars" policy

By Jeff Wortman

Paul and I got our name on the list for the media day at the Whitten Oval this year; a chance to train with Rocket Eade and the Western Bulldogs.

Rocket walked over to give us an address before we started our revised training program. I was really excited to hear him speak. I’ve always wished I could eavesdrop on the AFL coaches marshalling their troops. I knew this was going to be nothing like one of his halftime tirades but nonetheless I was intrigued.

Before Rocket had uttered his first sentence, he paused. Paul, with his aviator sunglasses and earring in its usual place had caught the coach’s eye. Rocket said: ‘we’ve got a few rock stars playing in our team… we don’t want any rockstars with the media do we?’ Paul offered to remove his earring but Rocket laughed it off. This wasn’t the day for serious discipline, it was a PR exercise.

Later I asked Scott West what Rocket might have done if Paul had been recruited to the club and turned up to his first training session dressed like that. West replied: ‘he probably would have torn the earring out, taken the glasses off and stomped all over them.’ He also explained that eye contact is very important to Eade. Clearly Paul had gotten off lightly but the other thing we quickly learned about Rocket is that he has a great sense of humour.

The legal waiver we had signed hardly seemed relevant as we began with a jog, some stretching and some light runs and hurdling. No doubt our program had been adjusted to reflect the physiques of those in attendance, most notably Tony Jones from Channel 9 and Ricky Olarenshaw from Channel 7. Ricky looked like he could play on a forward flank for the Bulldogs this year if required. Paul asked me if I thought it was weird that he had come down to train with the team at the media day. There were no cameras there and he wasn’t learning anything he didn’t already know. It was a bit weird. Perhaps he just misses being part of a footy club.

Soon after, when the players joined us, we did a couple of drills. There was a noteable shift in pace. Eager to prove myself, at one point I grabbed a loose ball and shaped to handball but all in the one motion I was tackled and the ball spilled loose. What shocked me the most was that I never saw it coming. I’ve played footy before and always thought I had a pretty good awareness of what was going on around me but trust me, with the Bulldogs around, I had no idea. First year players seem to have to come to grips with this very same feeling every year. The disposals and tricks that set them apart as juniors have to be executed with tremendous speed when you reach the AFL.

The final station in our program was some strength work with specialist coach, Tim Smith. He used phrases like ‘drop and give me twenty’ as throwaway lines, apparently oblivious to the enormous task it presented the humble members of the media every time he used them. I carried out his instructions dutifully. Again, he was not giving it to us with both barrels but I got the impression he was not a guy to be messed with (or maybe that was because Rocket had warned us earlier that he had just got out of prison.) Paul asked him who the toughest player he’d ever seen was. Without stopping what he was doing and with little deliberation he named Darren Milane. Paul wasn’t surprised. He later explained that en route to Collingwood’s 1990 premiership, Milane had rebroken his finger in every finals match. Pretty hard to argue with that.

As the session wrapped up, Rocket thanked us for coming down and asked us to ‘take it easy’ on them this year, just as they had gone easy on us, the only exception being Tony Jones who, for some reason, all the players delighted in roughing up.

Jeff and Paul produced the Footy Wrap on youtube and The AFL Show podcast with TPN.

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