‘The calm before the storm’: Dees ramp up preparations

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says his club is under no more pressure than the Western Bulldogs as they head into a grand final hoping to break the club’s 57-year premiership drought and end the Norm Smith curse.

“There is a pressure on everyone,” Goodwin said.

Christian Petracca, Simon Goodwin and Christian Salem celebrate a win this season.Credit:AFL Photos

Melbourne have produced a six-game winning run to reach their third grand final since 1964, with their most recent loss against the Bulldogs in round 19.

They won the qualifying and preliminary final in comprehensive enough fashion to be slight favourites for the decider.

“There is pressure on the Dogs, there is pressure on Melbourne. We have prepared our players for that [and] it is a great position to be in, but now is the time to go out and execute the things that you need to execute under the ultimate pressure,” Goodwin said.

With the pre-grand final bye adding a unique dimension to this year’s build-up, Melbourne will have a solid session on Saturday to prepare their players who will have played just one match this month ahead of the showpiece fixture on September 25.

Of the players in line for selection, only defender Steven May, who was subbed out of the preliminary final with hamstring tightness, will not take part fully in the session as he prepares to be right for the game.

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“May will do part of the session. He is in really good shape. Today is just a stepping stone in that process and we are really confident he will be right to play,” Goodwin said.

The coach said the session was necessary to ensure his players were in the right headspace ahead of the match with such sessions being part of their routine in 2021.

“We are a club that has trained hard all year, and it’s no different at this stage of the season. We need to prepare our players physically and mentally for what the game demands,” Goodwin said.

“The critical thing is to get the contest and the competitive nature of the session right so our mindset is right heading into next week.

“Clearly you do it in the safest way possible, but we have not lost anyone at training so far this year and we have trained really hard.”

Goodwin said he had recovered from the bout of food poisoning that struck him and assistant coach Adem Yze on Friday after they ate away from the hotel this week.

“I’m feeling 100 percent and ready to go. Thankfully it is not something that is going to pass through the players and the club. It’s self-inflicted,” Goodwin said.

The coach said Melbourne had only ticked the legs over in recent days as they had a mental break while getting themselves set physically but their approach would change from now on.

“We go into our full preparation mode and it starts today,” Goodwin said.

He said players such as Joel Smith – who was recovering from hamstring strain – and Jayden Hunt remained chances to be selected, but the hard decisions would be made at match committee later in the week.

The week’s rest is over and Melbourne are readying themselves for the main event.

“It really is the calm before the storm. Now is the time to really switch on as a footy club and refine our focus towards what the task at hand is,” Goodwin said.

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