After a premiership in 2015, to fall away so dramatically in 2016 was very disappointing. The influence of injuries to key players combined with the effects of the AFL draft have been well documented as forces working against us. And there is no doubt that these factors played their part.
It is rarely just one thing that causes a football club to go backwards. In a competition as cut throat as the SANFL it only takes a small drop off in a couple of areas to be ‘chewed up and spat out’. An analysis of all aspects of the way we went about our football in 2016 tells us that we need to raise the bar in many areas going into 2017.
Clearly our skill level was inconsistent at best, our capacity to defend and apply pressure effectively over four quarters was well below the standard required and as a collective we were too often outworked by the opposition.
The preseason is a crucial time and often the quality of the preseason is reflected in the fortunes the team experiences in the subsequent season. Our 2017 preseason takes on extreme importance. Getting the confidence back in our skills, team defensive action and work rate will all be high on the agenda. As coach it is my responsibility to create an environment which is conducive to marked improvement in all of these areas. There is no substitute for hard work.
It is an honour to pull on the Bloods jumper each week. As a collective we will be striving hard to make sure that the standards we achieve are more aligned to fulfilling the responsibilities that go with wearing the jumper.
We saw some significant development in some of our younger players in 2016. Jack Agostino, Chris Burgess, Jack Evans, Nick Favretto, Graham Hampton, Hugh Haysman, Kenny Karpany, John Noble, Isak Rankine, Josh Ryan, Brett Turner, Murray Waite all gained valuable league experience which will serve them and the club well next year and beyond. Development Team Coach, Gavin Colville did a wonderful job in assisting to fast track many of these players.
Playing consistent, winning football is our aim. As well as continuing to develop our young talent, our recruiting efforts will be geared towards adding quality and depth to our club. It needs to be much tougher to break into the WAFC league team in 2017 than it was in 2016.
The retirements of Adam Hartlett, Travis Tuck and Ryan Willits is significant. The contribution of each of these players cannot be measured only in terms of their outstanding on field performances.
All were exceptional leaders, demonstrating excellent examples regarding game preparation and what it takes to be a top line player week in week out over a number of seasons. We wish them and their families well and we thank them for the fantastic roles they played in bringing West Adelaide its first premiership in 32 years. It has been made clear to them that they are welcome back at WAFC in any capacity to assist the future development of our younger players.
Assistant Coaches Mark Beech who was our 2015 Premiership forward line coach and Brett Leonard, our 2016 back line coach, are also moving on. We thank them very much for their committed approach and we wish them well in the future.
In a very difficult year a big thank you goes out to all of our sponsors, members, supporters, support staff, board, management, administration, players and coaches at all levels. May we stick together and look forward, through hard work and commitment, to better days ahead.
Head Coach – Mark Mickan