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Ross Lyon post-match Q & A: Rd 2 v Port

Watch Ross Lyon's post-match media conference. Fremantle coach Ross Lyon speaks to the media after Freo's clash with Port.

Ross what do you think would be a fair assessment of Fremantle’s performance today?
We are really disappointed. We came here with higher expectations than what we delivered on. So if you have high expectations and you don't deliver, there is going to be disappointment. We felt like we knew Port really well; we knew their pressure was really strong. In simple terms, when the game was there we ripped the heart out of the team with our ball use centre-back and just turned it over. I think that was obvious for all to see. It was more than a game’s worth. Five goals conceded centre-back in the first quarter. Our stoppage work was ok, but they were seeping out on us. It haunted us last year and we thought we were on top of it. We will have to make changes on the back of that. It hurt us last week early as well, there were three goals conceded centre-back early in the first quarter. We can’t just keep rolling on with the same personnel. We will look at the method, you need to be able to execute and make decisions. It’s a real bugbear at the minute. It’s no doubt it ripped the heart out of the team. The scoreboard helps fuel enthusiasm and helps take it away. As much as we talk about that mental battle, don't let results influence you, when it's so dramatic, there’s no doubt it has an effect. But in saying that, I thought Port looked quicker than us, they played with intensity. I am not separating myself from the players. The buck stops with me, I have never shied away from that. You take your bouquets and you take your hits. There are some hits to come.

Can you make a radical change to the group or do you have to do it step by step?
I think it can be as fierce as we want it to be. We’ve had some really loyal servants. I am really protective of my players and rightly so because they give so much. They prepare and they don't mean to make mistakes, and I have to make sure it’s not what I am coaching. We will look at it. There is only so much below. We don't have 20 first round draft picks sitting there. We all understand that. Over the last few weeks, Peel have been ok. Is Griffin Logue ready? Probably not. On these results, we are just going to have to start playing kids. Harley Balic has finally put three weeks together so we will look at him. Tommy Sheridan could have probably been in easily on his form and he was first emergency. But we have stuck with the group, we showed faith. We didn't get delivered on, now we need to act.

Is there one area that you need to work urgently on over another?
We have been really working diligently and intensely and with a passion. Our drills fundamentally, if you went club to club aren’t that different. How you use the ball helps you defend. Centre-back turnovers are not defendable. You can’t defend them. You can defend out of your front half. You can’t defend short turnovers centre-back. It’s pretty hard to judge and how would you judge our forwards with such limited opportunity.

When you say you don't take yourself out of the equation, what are you looking at in your own method?
We have to look at the drills we are delivering, how we are coaching it, the messages. Make sure they are as simple as they can be under pressure but that's probably been a hallmark of where I have been. It hasn't been too complicated and quite simple. I need to make sure that it is still the case. If that's the case, are we doing what we wanted or not doing? There’s no silver bullet here, it's not just one thing. In the end, Port worked their way on top around the ground stoppages, they seeped outside of stoppages. They are things we can easily fix. And from centre square bounce, we scored early. That wasn't the issue. It was the ability to move the ball out and not turn it over, and when they had it to get it back off them. They are the fundamentals to the game.

Is it a bit of a mental thing with the players as well, because you didn't have a good season last year and it’s difficult to work during the summer and come up again? Is it just lack of confidence?
I don't like that word confidence. You get confidence from delivering. Port will be full of confidence because the last two weeks their intensity and their method has delivered for them. So they will believe more about what they are being asked to do. Confidence is just a feeling. It comes from doing the right action over and over. So why wont we feel confident? Because we are not delivering on the actions required to feel good about ourselves. It’s nice to have confidence but there is only one way to get it. That's to work hard on action and deliver the right actions. For a long period of time we were able to have that feeling and belief and we worked really hard over summer. The group dynamic is strong and the coaching team is strong. We expected a better performance so we are accountable for our performances. We pick teams with a method and leadership and ability to perform better than we did. We are really disappointed. No one is more disappointed than me. 

Overall, you have an impressive coaching record. Would you say that this is the toughest time for you personally as a coach?
It’s a really tough time because we are really a long way off. I was in some deep holes early in my career at the Saints. I suppose these things challenge you. I expect to be going better than we have. It’s a challenge. My coaching group and I will work through it, that's all you can do.

WA player, Sam Powell-Pepper was drafted to Port Adelaide. Would you have liked to have grabbed him when you had the chance in the draft?
I think you let the cobblers do the cobbling. I certainly don't do the recruiting. I’m not sure what you want me to say to that question.

You don't have a say about which players you bring to the club given that you are the senior coach?
In the National Draft? No, and I would say that goes for all clubs. That’s why they call them national recruiting managers and list managers. That’s what they do.

Shouldn’t the senior coach have some say to what players are going to the club?
You’re entitled to what you think it is, I am telling you what the reality is. I am paid to coach.

Do you have a word to the recruiters about Powell-Pepper being a WA kid?
I think you are taking things in isolation. Let’s not get into individual selections. I think it’s unnecessary, I think it’s mischievous and it is irrelevant. 

What about on the bigger picture? Where is this Fremantle squad? There has been a lot of commentary for two years about not having replacements for key forwards and so forth. Where do you think the squad is?
I think we are on record as saying where we were last year and what needs to be done.  I think you are across that? We’ve said there is no silver bullet. Where we were last year is where we were. You can’t hide from the facts and we are transitioning our list. Clearly there is evidence that that needs to continue.

The centre-back turnovers, is there anything you can do to coach to protect the scores you are leaking from those or do you just have to back your players to get better by foot?
I don't think it’s about the end result, I think it’s about improving the method to get out and not turn it over, rather than looking how we defend those turnovers. Some of those you can’t defend, so eradicate the turnovers and give them a strong method to get out.

It was a difficult night but you must have been pleased with the performance of Bradley Hill.
Thrilled. I reinforced to him four times throughout the game of how proud of his efforts I was. I thought he was super. He could have used it a little better going forward but what he has brought to the club is outstanding and it’s good that you noticed it.

How far away is Harley Bennell?
He’s rehabbing. It’s at an exciting stage, you should see him in some team training over the next few weeks and then he’ll get to the WAFL and then play.

Would you have any reservations about chucking a few of those younger guys in at once, you mentioned Balic and Logue?
No, we’re going to look at that. It would certainly be rude of me to pre-empt too much. But there is no doubt that we will make changes. 

Big chance for them if they did come in against the reigning premiers next week?
I don't think it's about next week. When you are blooding young players it’s really, on a graph of growth and grabbing experience and its not an all or nothing play. That's not what we are about.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs