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26 March 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Home-forged solidarity and a focus on renewed professionalism will fuel Stawell’s efforts in Wimmera Football League this season.
Long-term familiarity and mateship within the Warriors’ ranks loom as key elements as, like every other team across the region, Stawell works on ways to navigate its way through awkward preparations until the end of May.
Coach Tom Eckel said he was confident his playing group was well-equipped to cope with uncertainty surrounding strict measures to limit the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“There is a very strong home-grown feel about the side and we enter this period, where we can’t play or train together as a group, right up to the season start having had the best pre-season in a long while,” he said.
“Everyone is buying in to what we’re trying to achieve.
“It’s a big group of mates who have stuck around and I’m backing all the boys in – they’re pretty close.
“We’ve brought in some new game plans, structures and set-ups this year and been training for that all pre-season. We really changed training up and how we go about it and the approach is much more professional.
“Regardless of how many games we play and when we get back together again to train as a group, we will stick to that and continue to play towards the game plan.”
Eckel said there was little the club could do but stick to the broad directions from the sport’s governing body.
“We’ve done up a fitness plan for the next month or so and some of the guys will be catching up for a kick away from the football club. We’ve had a meeting and the boys are ready to go and do their own thing,” he said.
“We have a great build up and a lot of guys have been putting in hard work. All we can do is put our faith in them to keep it up and that’s what we’re doing.
“Everyone will stay constantly in touch regarding their progress with fitness and skill development to ensure we are in the best possible position when the season starts.”
Eckel said he had been impressed with what he had already seen from the Warriors in a practice match against Melbourne division-one team St Albans.
“We held our own up to three-quarter time and I was impressed. We obviously still have things work on but there were many positives,” he said.
The Warriors have some talent from last year’s list in Tom and Jack Taurau, Naish McRoberts and former coach Damian Joiner.
The team has Jay Moody on board as assistant coach and the likes of former Navarre premiership player Josh Driscoll on the list, Koby Stewart back in the fold and Cooper Reading back on the track.
“As a club, we just want to be in a position to play finals. From then on, anything can happen,” Eckel said.
“As a team we want to be disciplined, adapt to a new game plan and structures and be more professional. While we need to have a realistic approach and to understand that, like all teams, we are faced with a new challenge, we want the Stawell community to get behind us.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work and we want to be as ready as we can to put on a good performance for our club and supporters. Sure, we’re very conscious of not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we are also keen to show that we can perform at a level fitting of a Stawell representative side.
“We won’t be the tallest side going around, but we will be quick and aggressive at the contest.”
Seniors: Tom Eckel
Reserves: Charlie Driscoll
Under-17s: Nick Oliver
Under-14s: Rhett Mellor and Sam Williams
The entire March 25, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire March 25, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!