In the middle of a hectic and high-pressure AFL season, the goal of training is to maintain. Maintain fitness, maintain strength, maintain your relationships, and hopefully, maintain a place in the senior side.

Pre-season is the stage of the campaign where the biggest physical improvement is to be found. The long, hard block of physical training allows our players to get that little bit stronger, that little bit faster, and that little bit better.

There’s no such thing as a true off-season anymore. Players are sent home with programs to complete to ensure they return to the facility in tip-top shape, and for Charlie Lazzaro, it was no different.

Heading into his second season at the club, Lazzaro has already experienced 12 months at the top level of football, and the highs and lows that accompany it.

Charlie Lazzaro played 12 senior games in his first season as a Kangaroo

He says time away from Arden Street hasn’t seen him lose sight of his goals for the upcoming season.

“My goal over the off-season was to get faster, stronger and really build on my base level of endurance. They were the areas I really targeted at improving the most,” Lazzaro told North Media.

“I think I was probably a little bit light last season, so I’ve really been trying to put on some more weight, and that’ll continue through this pre-season period.

“There’s so many things you can work on, and so many areas you can get better, it’s about pinpointing those two or three things that will help you improve by that five or 10 per cent if you nail them right down.

“As a first-year player you do the hard work but you get looked after in a sense. This year I’ll be doing every bit of running and getting everything done. I’m really looking forward to getting that full, proper pre-season under my belt.

“Hopefully that’ll help me push my name for selection when the time comes around.”

Charlie Lazzaro gets a handball away against the Magpies in round 8 this year

After his selection with the 36th pick of the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, Lazzaro’s first year as an AFL footballer has flown by in what seems like the blink of an eye.

After 12 senior games and three goals in his debut campaign, he’ll be looking to lock down a spot in North’s best 22 next season, whether that be in the forward line, on the wing, or in the midfield.

As of Wednesday night though, he’ll no longer be part of the first year group, with the Kangaroos set to bring a handful of new draftees into their ranks, including the number one draft pick.

Lazzaro says already being on a list provides a different perspective to the draft.

“This time last year I didn’t know where I was going to go. I was very nervous,” he said.

“It’s a really difficult time of the year because for every kid that gets drafted, there are guys who’ve done a lot of hard work that miss out.

“For me, I’m really excited for the group we’re going to bring in and I can’t wait to welcome them to the club. It’s a great place to play your footy.

“I’m really looking forward to creating some bonds that’ll last for a really long time. Whatever we decide to do at the draft table, I can’t wait to meet the new crop that come in.”

Although he arrived during the trade period and has already made his presence felt at training, Callum Coleman-Jones can still be counted as part of North’s new incoming crop of players.

After four seasons with Richmond, Coleman-Jones has traded Punt Road for Arden Street, and is well on his way to getting to know his new teammates.

While it’s still early days, Lazzaro says he’s been impressed with the club’s newest recruit both on and off the training track.

“I’ve really liked ‘CJ’ since he’s come in so far. I was lucky enough to have a sauna with him on Monday and spend 20 minutes having a chat with him,” he said.

“He’s a really nice, genuine guy, and he seems like a phenomenal footballer.

“He’s got a massive frame, he’s a really good overhead mark, and he’s got good skills for a big key position player.

“He seems like the type of guy everyone in the group will be able to get along with really easily, and from the short time I’ve known him he looks like a serious prospect for us."