Melbourne premiership defender Jake Lever said it was a shock that he had fainted after a searching running session in hot weather on Monday but hopes his strong times are an indication his team is ready to be “hunted” next season.
Lever, a key figure in the Demons’ breakthrough premiership this year, has returned to training in mint condition and revealed he had completed two personal best times at Casey Fields before collapsing after his third run. He was assessed by club doctors and had to be helped from the ground.
Jake Lever walks off the training track after a fainting episode.Credit:Getty Images
“I think on reflection, it’s a test that is designed to be pretty hard, so I ran a PB for both of my first two times. I think I maybe went a little bit hard in my first couple of runs,” Lever said on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, I am not the first person to faint after giving it their all. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be the last, either. I laid down first after that third effort. When I went to get back up, I don’t think that was a very good idea. I don’t think I will be doing that again, for sure.
“The first shock came when they read out my time for the first lap that I did. I couldn’t believe I got that fast. After that, I went a little bit too hard, and it backfired a little bit.”
Lever quickly recovered and was back in action on Wednesday at Casey Fields, where the Demons are looking to finish their pre-Christmas program strongly. While the premiership stars have returned in excellent condition, Lever said those who did not play in the grand final, including Jayden Hunt and Adam Tomlinson, were ensuring the intensity remained high.
“There is probably a little bit of a point to prove with those guys that didn’t play in the grand final, in the premiership side,” Lever said.
“It’s great for our culture. It’s great for positions on the ground to be pushing really hard against each other.”
The Demons have made it clear they are focused on back-to-back flags, with the intention this time of tasting the ultimate success at the MCG. While overjoyed to have broken a 57-year premiership drought, in Perth, the prospect of celebrating before the Demons’ faithful in Melbourne is being used as motivation, as they reinforced during last Sunday’s celebration at the MCG. However, to do so, the Demons understand this time they will be the “hunted”.
North Melbourne coach David Noble.Credit:Getty Images
“We were just hunting every other team, we understood that we didn’t have any right to be where we were, it was just that we were working so hard, the results were coming our way,” Lever said of 2021.
“It is going to be no different this year. Teams are going to come back fitter, stronger, they are … going to hunt us. We are just really going to embrace that challenge and, hopefully, the results speak for themselves.”
Meanwhile, North Melbourne coach David Noble said Jason Horne-Francis, the No.1 overall pick in the national draft, was settling in well, where he, like all the draftees, are on a 60 per cent training load.
“He has fitted in really well. I haven’t seen anything I haven’t liked. He’s smooth, is a great kick and everything we saw, we’re seeing on the track,” Noble said.
“He wanted to go No.1, so that comes with that. He has a confidence about him, not an arrogance, but he knows his capabilities and as we go through the pre-season, it will put a lot of pressure on our coaches and our players to get better.”
Noble said Hugh Greenwood, the former Adelaide Crow and Gold Coast Sun, would add midfield depth. The Kangaroos poached Greenwood just days after he had been strategically delisted by the Suns, who had intended to re-draft him.
“I just love internal competition, and it forces the players to get better, train better, be sharper and put their best foot forward,” Noble said.
“It gives us versatility. It might allow us to roll some players through the wing. I think Hugh plays a huge leadership role, so he might play wing and half-forward. We have a versatility in there and that’s something we’re really conscious of going forward.”
Noble said veteran Ben Cunnington was recovering well from a secondary cancer.
Marty Hore is training with North Melbourne in the hope of being picked up by the club.Credit:Getty Images
Marty Hore, the former Melbourne defender, is training with the Roos and hopes to secure a spot via the pre-season supplementary signing period.
At Moorabbin, forward Mason Wood won St Kilda’s three-kilometre time trial on Wednesday, edging out midfielder Bradley Hill.
“Both Mason Wood and Bradley Hill ran really well, young Jack Peris and Ryan Byrnes were impressive too, and Jack Steele ran well. He’s been pretty consistent over the past number of years,” Saints’ head of high performance Nick Walsh said.
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