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Mid-year Q&A with Peel coach Cam Shepherd  June 15, 2017 8:30 AM

Cam Shepherd gives his thoughts at the mid-way point of the WAFL season.

Cam Shepherd gives his thoughts at the mid-way point of the WAFL season.

Peel Thunder sit fourth on the WAFL ladder heading into the mid-year bye, with a six and five win/loss record.

The Thunder have won four of their past five games, with their only loss in this period coming via a four-point defeat to ladder leaders Subiaco. spoke to Peel senior coach Cam Shepherd to get his thoughts at the mid-way point of the WAFL season.

How you rate Peel’s position heading into the bye?
I think we’ve been really pleased with the effort and the intent of the players, especially over the past four or five weeks. Even as the team changes, we’ve still been in every game and we go into the bye feeling pleased with our position, without getting too carried away with ourselves.

How important was last week’s six-point win over South Freo?
Our past two games (against Subiaco and South Fremantle) have been indicative that when we put our minds to it and are fierce at the contest, we know that we can match it with any side in the WAFL.

Subiaco and South Fremantle are probably the two best sides in the WAFL as they’re the top two on the ladder. Again it just shows that even through we’ve got a young group, and it’s very young, and even through we’ve lost a couple of critical players from our point of view in Leroy Jetta and Blair Bell, we still have been able to provide a really strong performance.

How beneficial have Freo’s more experienced players been with the Peel group?
The important part is the leadership they show when they come back and guys like Zac Dawson, Nick Suban, Garrick Ibbotson and Danyle Pearce – they have a wealth of experience and their attitude has been extemporary. They’re here to continue to press for their own selection but they’re also helping these young players develop. We’re really buoyed by the fact that there is this team-first mentality.

How pleasing is it seeing the younger players develop and step up to AFL level?
We’re about developing these guys so that they can perform at the top level and have a seamless transition into the senior side. That’s a part of our mantra, that we give every opportunity to players to improve and to develop their craft in our side while, hopefully, we have some success along the way - which obviously we did last year.

Does seeing these younger players step up at AFL level illustrate the pathway for the younger players?
I think that it shows that the pathway is alive and that there is real value to playing good, honest, hard football at Peel Thunder, as you’ll be recognised for it. I think while we have that belief, everyone is treated as an equal and everyone gets opportunity with great performance, it’s a real effective alignment, obviously for Peel but also for Fremantle.

We have seen a couple of players travel with Fremantle in Sean Darcy and Ryan Nyhuis. How have they been going at Peel this year?
They are young players in the start of their careers and they are both taking steps forward with the aim of eventually playing AFL football. Individually Ryan has always done what we have asked of him in the backline. He has been with Peel now for a year and a half and he is highly regarded. Sean is making leaps and bounds as a ruckman and is only a very young man at this stage.

You have players such as Rory O’Brien who are consistent for you all the time. How important are these players to the alignment?
Our players have a strong bond with the Fremantle players that have come down. It shows in the way that we fight together and they support each other. It’s not just the older players, we are a very young side ourselves and we play three or four teenagers. We are keen to develop the Peel players as well as the Fremantle players, all for a common goal of improving their footy wherever it takes them.