FOR most, the festive season at Christmas is a time of rest and relaxation with family and friends.
But for three of the AFL's newest recruits who have returned to central Victoria for the Christmas break, there's no let-up from their pre-season training program.
Richmond's Andrew Collins and Geelong's Joel Selwood were both selected in the AFL National Draft in November, while Jarryn Geary was picked up by St Kilda in the Rookie Draft earlier this month.
The three have all been given training programs to adhere to while they are on their Christmas break, giving the trio an early indication of the commitment and dedication needed to forge a successful career at AFL level.
'‘You learn off some of the players, especially those who have been there for five or six years and are successful, that you have to be so dedicated,'' said Collins, who was taken by the Tigers with selection 73 at the draft.
‘‘And you have to try to get to that level yourself,'' he said before yesterday's workout at Evolution Fitness on the La Trobe University Bendigo campus.
‘‘You expect the training to be full on and pretty hard, but not until you get down there and into it do you realise what it's like.
‘‘You get straight out of the pool after swimming a couple of kilometres and into the boxing ring - that's something you can't really prepare for before you go down there.
‘‘But all those pieces of training contribute towards you becoming a better footballer.'' Collins will be back in Bridgewater for two weeks, and has just two training-free days in that time.
The majority of his days will be spent either in the gym lifting weights, running, cycling or swimming.
It's a similar program for Geary, who was selected by the Saints with pick 58 in the rookie draft.
He will have just one day off while he is at home in Eaglehawk.
Geary's training program includes weights, pilates, running and stretching.
‘‘When you get back to training after the break, you don't have a week or so to get back into the swing of it, you have to get straight back into it on day one,'' Geary said.
‘‘So you don't want to be the bloke who is behind when you get back.'' Geary, who won the Neville Strauch Medal as the Pioneers' club champion this year, has only been training with the Saints for a fortnight, but is happy with how he is progressing at his new club.
‘‘Most of the guys are fairly young and enthusiastic around the club, which makes it easier on everyone else,'' he said.
‘‘You really want to go to training each day, it's not like you dread it.'' Selwood was taken by Geelong with selection seven - the Cats' first pick.
‘‘It has been good so far and I have fitted in alright; I'm living with (fellow draftee) Tom Hawkins, which has helped me out a fair bit because it's good to work together,'' he said.
‘‘I have been time-trialling well and getting a few touches when we have been having a few little scratch matches, so I do what I have to do.'' Selwood, who grew up barracking for Geelong, described his Christmas training program as ‘‘pretty strict''.
‘‘Because Geelong had a fairly poor year this year the boys are eager to make up for it,'' he said.
‘‘The club has just had a change in fitness staff, so it feels a bit like a new club at the moment.''