It hasn’t been the most conventional approach to pre-season training, but for North Melbourne’s players the long drive down the highway to Geelong has already proven beneficial.
Simonds Stadium has played host to a series of competitive training sessions between the Kangaroos and Cats, allowing opposition coaches Brad and Chris Scott to test game plans, tactics and personnel.
“It’s really important for us to do these sessions with another team,” North defender Scott Thompson told NMFC.com.au on Friday.
“You can really concentrate on what you haven’t got right yet before the NAB Cup.”
Thompson says the chance to train against quality opposition is a unique commodity.
“It’s a bit hard when you are just training with yourselves. Our forwards know what the defenders are trying to do, whereas Geelong's forwards don’t know what we’re trying to do.
“They’ve (Geelong's players) still been trying to stop us, and they have been stopping us with a few things, so it’s just easier to work out what you’re not doing right.
“We’ve found new improvements needed, but we’ve found some good things that we’ve been doing as well. It’s really lifted training in the times we haven’t been training with them because we’re working on things we need to improve on.
"It puts us ahead a couple of weeks of where we were last year.”
Thompson, who played with Geelong's VFL team before joining North has relished the opportunity to monitor his own progress too.
“Tom Hawkins hasn’t trained too much, but Podsy (James Podsiadly) has been down there (forward) and a few others have been down there so it’s been good to see where you are at, have a couple of one-on-ones with them and just see if your strength’s there, and if you’re running alright.
“I was a bit nervous because it’s like going into a match. It’s not just training, it’s more than training and really the coaches are watching you and seeing how well you’re going. The team could get picked from a training session against them, so you get a little nervous, but it’s just really good to have an opposition.”
Veteran Brent Harvey is another player to have thrown his support behind the initiative.