PLENTY to report.

Assistant coach Aaron Hamill is first up with our series of pre-season report cards, focusing on a selection of defenders at IKON Park. Stay tuned for the forwards and midfielders in the coming weeks!

2. Lachie Cowan

“Lachie’s been good. He had a slight interruption with his program early on, but he’s had a consistent 6-8 week patch. We like his versatility, we know he’s that rebounding defender for us but he knows the mechanics of the team defence. He’s going well with his training, he defends quite strongly for us but he can also be quite dynamic off turnover. He’s had a good block, we like what we’re seeing from him.

“Physically you see a change from year one to two. He’s been able to build the body, but mentally, he’s been able to connect with the group and have a clear understanding of the game plan.”

11. Mitch McGovern

“’Gov’ hasn’t really missed a beat, he’s had an outstanding pre-season. We know the games we were able to get him last year, we know he’s a high-level performer. He’s got a really good footy IQ, but the important part was coming back in good shape, which he did. His ability to execute the game plan and help others on both sides of the ball is a clear strength of his. He’s contributed really well for us.

“He’s quite clever in how he sees the game. The game slows down a bit for him and he’s able to see things before some recognise it. He’s got a really good balance of when to attack and when to defend, he’s a good contest player for us. With his flexibility - able to play higher up the ground, deeper or mid-tier - we want to keep him fit and healthy, the rest of it takes cares of itself with ‘Gov’.”

23. Jacob Weitering

“It was frustrating early for him because he’s such a competitor. But ‘Weiters’ has been outstanding for his leadership within the group, he’s bouncing into the Club every day and hooking into his rehab. He’s all over the vision with the younger guys, he’s leading the key backs in terms of their body work and positioning. He’s putting a power of work into that and leading the right way. 

“We’ve spent a fair bit of time going over vision and how we educate it, we’re bouncing off each other. He implements his thoughts and gets his hands dirty with it: it’s been a really big focus for him, so he’s taken a positive out of a negative period. We’re pretty comfortable with where he is. He’s absolutely an extra coach for me out there! It’s good to butt heads with him.”

24. Nic Newman

“Nic again has had a really good block of work. It was clearly a successful year for him, but his leadership and ability to drive the group with expectations and standards is at a really high level. His ability to bring others along and help others is one of his greatest strengths, as is his sound knowledge of the game plan. He’s probably one of the better problem solvers that we have, and getting him around the footy more helps in that higher tier. 

“We know he can defend on the line for us as well, but when we’ve got him higher up the ground where there’s more chaos, he’s able to solve a lot of problems for us: he’s had another really good block of work and he just wants to keep getting that continuity. He’s educating others and he’s hungry for success.”

35. Billy Wilson

”A lot of run and dash. He’s composed with ball in hand, but he’s got the ability to get out of traffic well, stay low and drive out of congestion. He’s able to execute efficiently: we like his ball use, he’s tough and got a good understanding of the contest and an appetite for the contest. On all three sides of the game, he’s developing really well. Again, he’s getting connection with the boys, building the body and learning about the game plan. So far, he’s showing some really promising signs.

“We felt we could really educate him down back more. The leadership down there by Newman, McGovern, Weitering, Saad, it’s going to help him. We’d like to get that part of his game right and develop him: you don’t always start where you finish in your career. This is just the starting point for him, we think he can develop into a really dynamic player for us.”

37. Jordan Boyd

“’Boydy’ has had a really good block of work. He’s been that high-tier defender, and his ball use has been of really good quality for us. We know his contest work and his defence - as we saw in Brisbane - is quite sound as well. The opportunities for him are to keep developing within the system and also honing his craft, which is his run and dash alongside ‘Saady’ and Zac Williams. We’ve got some quite dynamic runners back there now, and ‘Boydy’ can enter the mix.

“He’s a unit off the field! We’ve got a lot in common, we both love our music. I’ve got to keep adding to our Spotify playlist, I’m lagging on that. He’s a character.”

42. Adam Saad

“Just reliable. It’s what we know: he’s so consistent, so reliable in how he prepares. Where he’s developed is his reaction to the defensive side of the game, he’s been outstanding with that over the last couple of months and particularly in the summer — it’s been a real focus. We saw it playing against the likes of Charlie Cameron: he can do that and step up to that challenge, and then when we need him to release and break with the ball, he’s got that in his armoury as well.

“He does some really dynamic stuff by foot and with his decision making which some of us can’t help but sit back and admire.  He’s done a great job, he does stuff which you can’t really teach: we leave a lot of that to him, show us your strengths with ball in hand.” ‘Did he hit two right-footed kicks in training on Thursday?’ “Probably. He does that most training sessions, and he doesn’t let me forget about it either!”


The defensive focus

"We want to be able to create more turnovers in the front half, and we want to be able to score off them. Create and maximise our opportunities, we’ve gone to work a fair bit on our speed of ball use from back there in terms of when to go and when to have some composure with the ball.

"But with our consistency to defend, we’ve generally been in the top four for key aspects of our team defence, so we want to be able to harness that and go again at it. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’ve got the ball: we want to be powerful with it and dynamic with it, but that comes with a risk around your defence, so we’ve chased that hard. Our boys have had complete buy in with it, from the forwards, mids and backs."