State of play: Lachie Weller

Queensland U18 player, Lachie Weller, gives us his insights into the 2014 rep season.

I just got back from the AIS-AFL tour of Europe, which was an incredible experience.

We spent two weeks overseas, heading to London and Milan on the camp, as well as a couple of days in Melbourne, where we played the Collingwood VFL side at the MCG.

Playing footy in a different country, adapting to the time zone and getting used to the climate was definitely different, but it was a great way to get used to travelling and playing ,which we’ll be doing a lot this year.

Our state coach, Adrian Fletcher, who also helps coach the AIS Academy, talks a lot about the importance of being able to turn up and play in any conditions.

As long as you drink enough water and get enough sleep, you’ll be fine.

The footy’s still the same shape and there are still goals at each end, so it can’t really change all that much.

I don’t really have a set routine or any pre-match superstitions, it’s just about drinking water and staying pretty relaxed.

I’m pretty laid back about getting ready for games – I think it’s more important to train the way you want to play during the week and preparing that way, so I don’t have my actual pre-game routine set out.

I think that’s a good thing because every game is going to be different, in different conditions and this year we’ll be in different states.

We played three games in basically the first week of the camp, which was pretty tough, but with all the coaches and physios around there was a lot of focus on recovery and they managed our workloads really well.

The AIS-AFL Academy is basically set up to be as much like an AFL club as possible, trying to get us used to that culture and having a lot of coaches around.

Between games, we saw footage and had individual meetings, so there was plenty of footy stuff.

From a footy perspective, my highlight was winning the best on ground for the AIS side in our game against Europe.

I knew I’d played a pretty good game but there were plenty of other guys who played alright, so I was really honoured to get that award.

Everyone was keen to explore and have a bit of fun as well, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the cities we were in.

London was really good, and I’d definitely go back if I got the chance.

When we were in Milan, we went over the border to Switzerland, and did a 2 ½ hour hike in the Alps.

There was snow falling and some of the guys were seeing it for the first time, so we had a big snowball fight.

I learned first-hand how crazy some sports fans are in Europe too.

Watching a European League basketball match in Italy, which featured Boomers captain Joe Ingells, there were about 13,000 people and we were supporting Ingells’ team – the away team.

We were sitting in front of probably the most crazy cheer squad, and they were abusing us in Italian and throwing stuff – I had a couple of near misses with some flying cans.

We met Joe after the match and when he walked out all these people booed him and we basically had to get a police escort out, it was crazy.

In London, we went to see Watford and Leeds play, with something like 25,000 people at a second tier match.

I think the top five soccer leagues in England are professional, which is so different to Aussie Rules, where it’s basically just the AFL that’s full time.

A message that stuck in my mind from the trip was one of our guest speakers – an Australian gymnast who went to Europe to develop because gym wasn’t so big in Australia back then.

He highlighted the importance of utilising the resources you have.

Being from Queensland and being among all the Victorians, they’re always pretty lucky with what they get down there, but I took out of that talk that it’s about what you do with what you have.

Follow Lachie on Twitter: @lachieweller

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