By ZAC MILBANK
North Adelaide coach Jacob Surjan says he has a new appreciation for the workload placed on his players after rolling up his own sleeves during the Covid-19 shutdown.
Surjan – who spent nine years as an AFL player with Port Adelaide – got his hands dirty while working as a concreter for Roosters assistant coach Vinnie Rugolo.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, the 34-year-old said rising at 5am to shovel and push around wheelbarrows had provided him with great insight into the lives of his players who spend their days as tradesmen.
As a result, Surjan said he would be more forgiving if the training standards of one of his players had slipped due to carrying a heavy schedule on the tools outside of Prospect Oval.
Still itching to take charge in his first game since assuming the mantle from premiership mentor Josh Carr, Surjan nominated speedy forward Frank Szekely as one to watch in North’s opening encounters against West and Norwood at Adelaide Oval.
Attracting the attention of AFL scouts last summer, Szekely has a great blend of pace and endurance as well as an uncanny knack of producing a classy passage of play for the Roosters.
All of North’s players are back on board after the Covid-19 break, including star recruit Billy Hartung who is now back training after serving his isolation period upon his return from Victoria.
Captain Alex Spina (knee) and new vice-captain Andrew Moore (shoulder) have benefited from the extra time off to overcome their niggles while Ben Jarman is in good shape after a strong preseason.
North will begin its 2020 campaign against the Bloods on Sunday June 28 from noon before tackling Norwood in Round 2 on Saturday July 4 from 3.05pm.
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