Cameron Smith

When the Fun Over Fifty bus rolled in at 5:30 am at Carindale to pick up the players and coaching staff, you knew the Byron Bay pre-season camp was going to be a success, just by looking at the golden bus.

The boys quite impressed with the Fun Over 50 bus jumped on board and found out that Rob – the driver, was also quite a legend and enjoyed his company over the weekend.

The bus, on time, even though one of the players forgot to set their alarm, headed down the highway and picked up some more players and coaches from Logan and the Gold Coast.

On the way, the boys participated in some trivia based on some random facts on the players and staff, that was organised by Mitch Stallard and Aaron Christensen.

A couple of highlights were – Darcy Marsh has got Mitch Marsh out in a net session, Peter Yagmoor completed eight seasons of Vampire Diaries in one day and Luke O’Sullivan is part Jamaican.

After plenty of laughs, the golden bus arrived at the Canvanbah Centre ready for an action-packed day of team building and culture setting.

To start the day the players heard from a number of different staff at the club about leadership, culture, player well-being before Carsey went over the game plan for the year.

A highlight of the session was seeing veteran defender Peter Yagmoor run an aerobics class to some Avicii which for your information is assistant coach Jason Cotter’s favourite band.

After all of the presentations, it was time for team photos, which was a great opportunity for the players to show off their gym progress over the pre-season.

Once the photos were done, it was time for the players to hit the field and touch the footy, something they haven’t been able to do for two weeks because of the weather.

It was great to have Blake Grewar and Adam Oxley on the track; the first time Adam has trained with the guys and the second for Blake this pre-season.

After a productive session, it was finally time for a break from the hot Byron sun, and the players were able to enjoy wraps and Chobani for lunch.

Then it was time for the players to get back on the Fun Over 50 bus, where they were taken to main beach for the Team Challenge.

The team challenge was about putting into practice what had been talked about in the morning in terms of culture and team building.

It was not going to be easy. The players were separated into their three groups – Forwards, Midfielders and Defenders, and it was race to see which group would get back first.

The mission was to run to the lighthouse and back with seven team challenges for the teams to compete in between.

Some of the challenges included a scavenger hunt around the lighthouse, an obstacle course and getting all of their team through a hole in the playground’s spiderweb.

In the end, it was the forwards that came away with the win, with the midfield not too far behind and the defenders brought up the rear.

It was a phenomenal effort by all though, especially considering it was a 34-degree day and not one player complained. Something that really impressed assistant coach Chris David.

“I didn’t hear one player complain the whole time, “David said.

“They were all encouraging one another to get through. It was also great to see a number of players showing some really good leadership out there as well, to help everyone get through what was a pretty tough session.”

Once the challenge was finished the players went for a well-deserved swim at the beach.

The day finished off with all the players and staff venturing to the Byron Bay Services Club for dinner where the main topic of debate was, whether chicken parmigiana is called “chicken parmie” or “chicken parma”.

After that, it was time for everyone to head to camp, ready for an early departure the next day. There was time to sneak in a quick pool recovery session in the morning, before team breakfast and then the Fun for Fifty Bus was headed back to Brisbane.

It is fair to say that a lot of progress was made over the weekend, on and off-field, and the brotherhood bond grew, with a lot of excitement brewing for Round 1 on April 4.

Chris David summarising the camp as a “great opportunity to reinforce the message that Phil’s been sharing with us over the pre-season and for the players to bond and grow the brotherhood.”

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