The pre-season has been full of positives from a Northern Blues standpoint, according to Tom Wilson. (PHOTO: Cristian Filippo)
The expectations and the foundations have well and truly been set at the Northern Blues this pre-season.
And ever-present captain Tom Wilson will be at the forefront.
Having re-signed for season No.9 as a Northern Blues, Wilson has been thrilled by the signs shown from his teammates as preparations continue to build at Ikon Park.
“The majority of the playing group have come back in good nick and they’re showing what’s required to be a VFL player for the younger group. It’s been a really positive start,” Wilson said.
“Every other club is in the same position so our challenge is to be consistent in our leadership, consistent in what we stand for and consistent in our demands.”
Two big re-signings to announce!
Tom Wilson isn't going anywhere, and neither is Josh Hill. ????#Northbound
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) December 4, 2018
Casting his mind back to previous pre-seasons of years gone by, the Northern Blues has been something of a revolving door in terms of player movement and turnover each season.
Arguably, that’s been the most pleasing thing for Wilson heading into 2019: the retention of a playing group which showed its potential in the back-end of last season.
The three-time Laurie Hill Trophy winner believes it’s a testament to the culture which has been built by players and coaches alike.
“‘Frase’ has been really clear in his expectations of what he wants from the playing group,” he said.
“It’s awesome to be honest, to see so many familiar faces from the start of pre-season. It’ll hold us in good stead.
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) December 4, 2018
“It saves us time in educating and up-skilling a big group of boys, and allows for that development to happen much quicker. We’re spending more time int raining implementing what we want instead of learning what we need.”
Among the players who have officially re-signed alongside Wilson are the experienced trio of Sam Fisher, Josh Hill and Jesse Palmer, as well as emerging youngsters Mason Blakey, Jordan Lynch and Ethan Penrith.
However, the Blues have also gone and added some notable talent over the off-season with the acquisitions of Kieran Collins and Alex Johnson.
“‘Collo’ has been terrific for the group from day one with his leadership qualities, he’s really bought in. Everyone has responded really well to him so far,” he said.
Welcome aboard, Alex Johnson!
We're delighted to have signed AJ in a dual capacity for season 2019.#Northbound
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) November 30, 2018
“AJ is a terrific story, he’s full of courage and hopefully he can get back pretty early in the season. It’d be an awesome effort, it’s a testament to his character.”
And on a personal note? After another award-ladened season at Preston City Oval, Wilson isn’t going to rest on his laurels.
“The body’s feeling good. In comparison to this time 12 months ago, I’m well in front,” he said.
“Seeing guys like Max Dreher impressing with the way he’s attacked pre-season, and Mason Blakey out there — he’s going to be a really good footballer for us.
“We bat a little bit deeper than we did last year in terms of talent, and there’s more awareness of what’s required. It creates competition for spots which is a great thing.”