Christmas spent in quarantine on the opposite side of the country to his family was a “bit unorthodox” for Campbell Chesser, but the West Coast draftee simply couldn’t wait to get to Perth and join the Eagles when pre-season training resumed last week.
In a sign of his commitment, Chesser drove nearly 900km from Albury to Adelaide, where he trained with SANFL club Glenelg – home to former Eagles duo Luke Partington and Matthew Allen – and awaited a permit to fly to Perth for a fortnight in isolation during the festive season.
With a section of his host family’s home to himself, plus a pool and gym equipment, the 18-year-old kept in shape until he was picked up by new teammate Jackson Nelson last Thursday morning for his first day at Mineral Resources Park.
“It was a strange start, definitely, but it was alright after that two weeks. It went by pretty quickly actually,” Chesser said.
“The club set up some training stuff at the house before I got there. It broke my days up. The training was solid and I’m feeling good at the moment.
“There was no pressure from the club about staying home or coming over for Christmas, so I made the decision that I’ve been home for a while and the borders, it’s so unpredictable … so thank god I did get over when I did.
“It was a decision that I wanted to get over here for day one, which worked out to be exactly the day I got out of quarantine.”
Taken with pick 14 in last year’s NAB AFL Draft, Chesser was itching to get stuck into football following a COVID and injury-interrupted year in Melbourne.
He tore his meniscus in round two of the NAB League and after returning three months later the season was promptly shut down.
Track watchers have noted the underage sprinter’s turn of foot and quality skills in three training sessions to date, and Chesser’s fitness is clearly not an issue given he hit the required mark during a 2km time trial on his second day at the club.
Having missed a couple of weeks of training with the group pre-Christmas, the inside-outside onballer is soaking up as much as he can from West Coast’s star-studded midfield group and has been shadowing one of the Eagles’ most professional players - wingman Andrew Gaff.
“I think ‘Gaffy’, he has got his spot on the wing and does it probably as well as anyone in the League,” Chesser said.
“He’s someone who comes with a world of knowledge. Dom Sheed, (Luke) Shuey, Tim Kelly, we’ve got so many midfielders with a lot of knowledge and great players of the game.
“Just trying to grasp as much as I can off all of them, and ask as many questions as I can.
“Just taking it day by day at the moment, trying to learn things every day.
“It’s been great fun, great group of boys.”