Opinion: Footy marks welcome return 

It’s good to have footy back. 

It might only be the pre-season competition, but it’s still a positive to have any form of footy back.

Watching the first weekend of games involving nine teams in what is certainly a modified, maybe even compromised form of our game, can provide us with so much, or so little.

Every team will have their own outlook and goals for each game, with St Kilda coach Scott Watters going as far as saying “we are not in it to win it”. 

I’m not sure where that fits with the AFL and its desire for each team to give themselves the best opportunity to win every game.

We saw Collingwood win two games with a near full-strength squad. It will be interesting to see how they manage this throughout the series. 

Players like Swan, Pendlebury and Jolly will surely be given a holiday as they progress. 

We did see them play a slightly different style, more direct through the middle of the ground, which can also mean high risk – turnovers in the middle can be highly scored against and hard to defend.

Across the border in Adelaide, I noticed the Saints reversing this trend. Their willingness to switch and go wide at every opportunity was profound. 

This plan will allow them to make the ground hard to defend by spreading the defenders, but also creates a high possession rate per inside 50 and can be inefficient.

Looking further west, we saw three competitive halves between West Coast, Fremantle and Geelong. 

We saw some great footy, with comebacks like LeCras giving Eagles fans great enthusiasm.

However, the biggest moment from the west came from an undisciplined Cat, who must be better. 

Hayden Ballantyne may be the best antagonist in the game, but nothing excuses Stevie Johnson’s actions. Ballantyne has the wood on the Cats mindset and will continue to as long as they react. 

In this manner. Stevie J did not hinder Ballantyne’s or Fremantle’s performance by his contact to Ballantyne, but his actions could affect Geelong and its huge game in round one. They must be better.

We continue to watch and learn about our teams, their draftees and new game plans, but we also look forward to round one when we see full-strength sides going full speed for premiership points.

The Bendigo Flight Centre Summer Cup is an initiative to reward our best trainer over pre- season with a holiday package to Queensland.

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