It’s been more than two months since our A-League squad kicked a ball in anger, and today marked the first field session of the 2020/21 pre-season.
The heavens dictated that things weren’t going to be as straightforward as hoped though, with the session moved to Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility due to a waterlogged Ray Watt Oval.
That didn’t hamper the intensity of the session however, with the boys pushed to their limits over a gruelling hour and a half.
One person who has seen more than a few ‘first-days-back’ is Jason Hoffman, who is preparing to enter his eighth season as a Newcastle Jet.
After scoring in his last appearance for Newcastle, that August win over Wellington, ‘Hoffy’ reported for pre-season in good nick and is keen to crack on.
“The body feels great. We’re looked after in the break to make sure we stay fit, and the biggest joy is seeing the Club and everyone around again,” Hoffman said.
“It’s a long break and one we’re used to in Australia, but one we never like. It’s really nice to be back in and touch a ball with the rest of the squad, and looking forward to a big season ahead.”
It wasn’t a pre-season without drama though, with the departure of A-League coaching personnel stealing the headlines as the boys prepared to return to the paddock.
The squad has entered the pre-season under the watchful eyes of Craig Deans and Daniel McBreen, who are joined on-pitch by Joel Griffiths and Lawrie McKinna.
The search for a new Head Coach is well underway, but Hoffman believes that the strength and resolve of the playing group will be the crucial piece of the puzzle as the team moves forward into the coming season.
“Everyone knows the situation, the way we played at the back end of last season was extremely exciting and to lose a key part of that… it is what it is,” Hoffman said.
“We will find the right person, I’m sure, and the majority of the boys are still here and we’re looking forward to season 2020/21. We feel like we can take off and advance on what we improved on at the back end of last season, and we believe and we have a lot of faith as a playing group in the Club to get the right person here to take us on that path.
“We’re extremely excited to build on what we achieved at the back end of last season and make a really good run into what I think will be a huge comeback year for the A-League.”