The GWS Giants hit the trails and bonded in the great outdoors when they came to Leura last week for a 48-hour camp.
Playing defence for the Giants reserves last season, Penrith-born player Jake Stein has visited the Blue Mountains on many occasions. Often it’s been to buy sweets for his mum from Leura’s lolly shop, and he said it was great to be back in the Mountains.
On Friday morning the team training session included an 8km trail run in the Upper Mountains.
“It was pretty fun to get out,” the 23-year-old said.
“It would be good to go out for a walk one day to see it all when I’m not out of breath.”
The AFL team converged on the Fairmont Resort, spending time bonding as a team and nutting out a plan for the upcoming season.
“It was about setting examples as role models and building relationships, connecting the older boys as well as the younger boys as one team,” Stein said. “… knowing where we are heading and where our focus is for 2018.”
Stein hopes to break into firsts this season. “I’ll be taking every opportunity I can to get into that side; being a western Sydney boy it would be awesome to be playing with them.”
Stein attended St Dominic’s College and his parents live in Luddenham. A decathlete, Stein represented Australia in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, before giving away the sport to focus on AFL.
“Last year was a good year for playing and development and getting to know the game. This year I’ll focus on footy with a bit more instinct and confidence,” he said.
After competing as a solo athlete for so many years, which included a gold medal at the World Youth Athletic Championships in 2011, it was difficult adapting to the team environment.
“Managing to form bonds with these boys and connect to the team and feel you have a right to be there was the hardest part,” Stein said.
As a youngster he played soccer and rugby league, and was a mad keen rugby league fan. But when he started watching AFL, league didn’t seem such an attractive or entertaining game, so when he was invited to join the Giants, it was an easy decision.
A GWS Giants ambassador at junior AFL club the Blue Mountains Kangaroos, Stein hopes to attend more game days in the near future as time permits.