AFTER turning over more than half their playing list from 2015, many would not have expected Perth to be sitting atop of the Colts ladder after nine rounds, let alone undefeated.
Andrew Ruck is in his first season as colts coach and while he was pleased by his side’s start to the season, the development of the playing group over the past seven months has been more of a highlight.
“It’s been a good start and there have been a lot of different challenges but it’s been fun and the group are enjoying the challenges they face each week,” Ruck said.
“It sounds probably pretty clichéd but we don’t pay too much attention to the scoreboard; it’s more about the development of the players and this is something that we have been keen to reinforce from the start.
“We want to be able to promote as many players as we can from our group to the senior team in the following couple of years and we don’t really want them going up there with too many deficiencies.”
Trying to correct the deficiencies in different players’ games, Ruck and his coaching group have implemented ‘craft sessions’ into training after senior coach Earl Spalding introduced them at senior training.
“In regards to the craft sessions, as soon as the players get here, which is around 5-5.30pm, we get to work on their deficiencies,” he said.
“Every player has deficiencies and we try to identify these particular deficiencies in our players and spend 15-20 minutes working with them each night.
“Some nights we can have anywhere from six to seven groups, working on all different aspects of the game, from contested marking to skill execution and decision making.
“We think this has had a really positive effect on the playing group and by setting some minimum standards when it comes to skill level and training habits, which the players have really bought into, is probably the difference between us winning games and not winning games.”
One thing the team will have to adjust to over the coming months is the loss of players to the State 18s and to the Private Schools Association.
Zac Fisher, Quinton Narkle, John Levien, Gordon Narrier, Anton Scotney and Kristian Morisey have all been selected in the WA squad for this year’s national under-18 championships, which will begin next month.
“When you take 10 or 11 guys out of your team, most sides really find it difficult and I have found over the last three or four weeks that our depth is quite strong,” Ruck said.
“When these players come in we are not expecting the world or asking them to get 20 touches; we are just asking them to beat their man and try and give us a little bit on the rebound and do all the little things that make the good sides good. And so far, this has been the case.”
The Perth colts group of 2016 is very diverse and dynamic, with players coming from all over the Demons catchment zones.
“There’s probably around 10-12 players that are a part of this squad at the moment working with Jarrod Chipperfield and Matthew Stokes,” Ruck said.
“We are using a program called hudl, where we are able to upload vision with feedback from the previous week’s game. This allows the players to sit down and review their vision on Monday.
“It saves them from travelling down three nights a week and I know it’s only one night but at the end of the year, one night every week makes a big difference.”
With the team not having lost a game so far this season, expectations around Ruck’s side are starting to rise.
“Externally, expectations and pressures are probably a little bit higher but internally when we do our reviews, I keep emphasising to the players that it’s about earning the respect of their teammates…”
“I think that at the end of the day if you can earn the respect of your teammates and aim to train as well as you possibly can, then as they progress through the grades this will hold them and the Perth Football Club in good stead.” Andrew Owen