Bushrangers balance shorter preseason

BALANCE has been the key for the Murray Bushrangers Girls side according to assistant coach Mario de Santa-ana. Speaking to Rookie Me Central at the NAB League Girls Preseason Testing Day, de Santa-ana said the coaching staff had sought advice from the high performance experts in order to deal with the shorter turnarounds between seasons.

In previous years, the NAB League Girls started in late February, but in 2022, that has been brought forward to the weekend of January 22, which has meant the Bushrangers – like all NAB League Girls sides – have had to complete a juggling act between fitness and skills.

“We’ve probably taken a lot of advice from our high performance people and just made sure we weren’t overloading the girls early on given the change and the heat we’re training in up in the Wangaratta region,” de Santa-ana said. “We’ve sort of adjusted, we’ve increased our conditioning program and dropped off in a little bit of the skills and will reverse that in January.”

Many of the Bushrangers performed strongly at the testing day, which pleased de Santa-ana that their hard work on the track was paying off.

“We’ve been pretty happy with our profile of girls we’ve got,” he said. “They’re athletic and they’re fit, so we’re pretty happy with the results you’ve seen.”

Delving deeper into the list, de Santa-ana said the Bushrangers had a couple of representatives in the Vic Country hub who loomed as some of the top prospects in 2022.

“They’re tracking pretty well. We’ve got a couple of girls in the Vic Country in the squad early on,” de Santa-ana said. “We’re looking for big things early on from Madi Gray and Keeley Skepper. “They’re probably two of our leaders at the club and they’ve performed well today, they’re fit, they’re healthy, so hopefully they can stay that way for the first round.”

As for the player to keep an eye on, de Santa-ana named newcomer Zarli Goldsworthy. She along with Gray and Skepper were among the top performers on the track.

“She’s come in from an elite soccer background,” de Santa-ana said. “She’s just smashing everything we do at training. I think she’ll be a bit of a surprise packet this year.”

Now with Round 1 just under two weeks away, de Santa-ana reaffirmed that like always, the focus would be on development, more so than success. But reiterated that the two were not mutually exclusive.

“I think from a coaching point of view and a football point of view,  flags are good aren’t they? But we certainly put 99 per cent of the focus into development with our squad to the point where we have draftable young women, or young girls who can go and play VFLW the following year,” de Santa-ana said. “Our focus has been development and it will stay development. “The team rewards come with that.”

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