You cannot beat night one of pre-season training, according to Lions AFLW Coach Craig Starcevich. The excitement and optimism of what could happen is like nothing else.

The Lions players have finally returned this week for their first week of training as they prepare for the fourth year of AFLW.

“There’s always that excitement of the first night,” Starcevich said.

The group came together at Yeronga, their training base in 2020, on a balmy, windy night.

“We’ve got another dozen or so new people in the group, but we’ve got that core of experienced people leading the way,” he said.

 “We’ve started with great intensity and all the players have come really well prepared before night one.

“Most have been training for a month prior to this.”

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This was evident by the players’ performance in their annual 2km time trial to kick off the season.

With last year’s winner Emily Bates forced to sit out the run, a new winner was crowned. Irish recruit Orla O’Dwyer finished first by a long way and smashed the Club record.

Rheanne Lugg, another new player at the Lions, finished second and also beat the previous Club record. Cathy Svarc was third, followed by Sophie Conway and Selina Goodman.

“The top five are people who didn’t play last year,” Starcevich said.

“That’s the really pleasing thing, the athleticism of the group has shifted to a new level this year.”