There was a welcome new face on the training track as the West Coast Eagles reconvened from their Christmas break, with top draft pick Campbell Chesser making his first appearance at Mineral Resources Park on Thursday morning.
Just hours after his quarantine requirements finished at midnight, Chesser was decked out in blue and gold and looked right at home in the Eagles nest.
One of five players selected by West Coast in the 2021 national draft – with the Sandringham Dragons product’s name called at pick 14 – Chesser had been unable to get to Perth in time to join in with the brief pre-Christmas training block.
But, sporting fresh white boots, the speedy midfielder was bursting to get into the action on day one of 2022, having taken it upon himself to drive to South Australia from Victoria before flying to Perth and spending Christmas in quarantine in order to begin training with the squad in the New Year.
Despite the two-week stint in isolation, Chesser looked neat with ball in hand and had a spring in his step as he get to work in stoppage craft alongside the likes of skipper Luke Shuey, classy onballer Tim Kelly and superstar ruck Nic Naitanui.
Like many before him, the 18-year-old found navigating the traditional ‘welcome kick’ – a set shot form about 30m out directly in front – tricky at first, but soon found his direction as the effects of 10 spins with the Sherrin held above his head wore off.
That shot was the signal for the group to get stuck into the bulk of an hour-long session in sweltering conditions, with in-close skills work and precision kicking drills the order of the day.
It was encouraging to see experienced mid Jack Redden heavily involved in training, with his left shoulder strapped, as he continues to build following surgery late last year.
After being invited to train in December in the hope of being picked up as Pre-season Supplemental Selection Period rookies, big man Luke Strnadica and Kade Dittmar were back with the group as the next phase of the summer grind begins.
It is two months to the day until West Coast is set to visit Fremantle in the AAMI Community Series and the prospect of facing an opponent will quickly become real for the players as they jockey for spots in the side.