Dillon Viojo-Rainbow continued his impressive pre-season form on the weekend in the Northern Blues’ win over Richmond in their VFL practice match.
Collecting 20 disposals playing off a wing in the Blues’ big win, it was Viojo-Rainbow’s second promising performance in a row after showing some positive signs against Box Hill a fortnight ago.
The second-year Blue said the overriding positive to take from the game was the consistency in performance across the board, which saw Northern power to a 56-point victory at Punt Road on Thursday.
“It was good to launch the new Northern Blues. It was a really good hit-out, our second one for the year, and to go forward and launch the way we want to play is a real positive,” Viojo-Rainbow said.
“When the big boys are firing and marking it up forward, it’s a real uplifting feeling and it gives us full faith that they’re going to make a contest. It was super by them.”
On his individual form, Viojo-Rainbow said Carlton’s summer reset had personally made for a fruitful pre-season.
After some niggling injuries interrupted his 2015 at times, Viojo-Rainbow said he had a clean bill of health and making his AFL debut was “absolutely his goal” for this season.
“Pre-season has been good. ‘Bolts’ has come over from Hawthorn and we haven’t wasted any time, which is great,” Viojo-Rainbow said.
“Our schedule’s been hectic which is good and my body’s fully up and running for once, so pre-season has been hard but really rewarding.”
Viojo-Rainbow enjoyed a mixed 2015, with his maiden season on the list littered with both individual moments of brilliance and quiet performances at VFL level.
He said the goal for this season was to continue with his positive momentum and progressing with the form he’s shown to date in Northern’s two practice matches.
“It was good to go back-to-back for once - I think last year I’d have one good game and then maybe have a quiet one for the next two games,” Viojo-Rainbow said.
“It’s a good stepping stone but I’ve just got to keep moving forward and keep building game by game.”
Northern Blues senior coach Josh Fraser echoed Viojo-Rainbow’s sentiments, and said the goal for the 20-year-old was to continue to string positive performances together.
Fraser said there were some “really encouraging signs” from Viojo-Rainbow over the pre-season.
“It’s always a challenge for a young player, but he’s strung two pretty consistent games for us now,” Fraser said.
“A big part of the program for us is to build some real quality depth and making sure accountability is high at VFL level and we perform at a level where, should players get the opportunity, they’re ready to go.
“Along with everyone, we want to keep elevating the expectations on performance for Dillon and so far he’s ticking the boxes, but the challenge for him is to continue performing and raise the bar.”
The Northern Blues’ final 2016 practice match comes on Saturday afternoon, when they host Port Melbourne at Preston City Oval from 1pm.