Carey sets pace as Redbacks return to pre-season

Despite several notable absences - including captain Travis Head and spinner Adam Zampa who are on international duties - the squad was put through their paces with a 2km time trial and series of strength tests to assess their conditioning after several weeks off. 

Newly contracted Glenelg 'keeper Alex Carey was the standout on the track, the former GWS-listed player holding off Jake Lehmann and Chadd Sayers to set the pace in the time trial.

The tests mark the second pre-season under SACA High Performance Manager Stephen Schwerdt, whose program was widely credited in helping turn the bottom-placed Redbacks into dual finalists last season.

However the former Gold Coast Suns and Adelaide Crows fitness boss says there’s still plenty of work to be done over the next few months.

“I think we were just scraping the surface last year from a physical perspective,” he said.

“We’ve managed to nail down quite a few fundamentals, but there’s a still a huge amount of upside and improvement left in these guys in terms of their fitness.

“Looking at the results just then, it’s clear they’ve done quite a bit of work over their off-season, so that already shows a significant shift in mindset.

“Alex is obviously a standout in that he’s come from an AFL background and is used to that kind of environment, so he’s going to be able to help set a good example for our guys.”

With last year’s Neil Dansie medallist Joe Mennie crediting his career-best season to an improved focus on strength and conditioning, Schwerdt is confident of more improvement from the Redbacks' already ominous bowling brigade.

“There’ll be a big focus on trying to increase our guys' strength this year, which will be of particular help to the bowlers,” he said.

“Last year in the gym we were mainly focussing on the technical aspects, but this year we’ll be able to give them a bit more weight and really try and make some inroads there.” 

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