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Ross Lyon Q & A: JLT2 v West Coast

Watch the highlights from Sunday's JLT clash with West Coast. The Fremantle Dockers and Eagles clash in the JLT.

What pleased you most?
We want to be a better contested ball team and pressure team than we’ve been in the last couple of years. It was a step in the right direction. We hadn’t been a team that’s been able to get entries so we want to be able to go in. We really came here to improve on that today and I think really, it was pleasing that we did that. It was a big ground, hot, 34 degreees, windy, challenging conditions but I thought we applied ourselves in the right manner and it’s put a signature to the end of your pre-season. Our reality is, I know it’s a cliché, but we (invested heavily in) two drafts and heading into the second year of a rebuild so there’s plenty of challenges in front of us, but we want to improve our method so we came here to work on our method and our effort and I thought we could walk away saying we did that today.

Would you say today’s team was close to your best team and best midfield?
I think that’s yet to be determined. I think you could argue that clearly Bradley Hill and Stephen Hill are two quality midfielders for us that were out and if we can get Harley physically ready, he clearly sits in that. Once swallow doesn’t make the summer does it? West Coast, we know they’re a good club, they’ve been a really good team and are a good team. You can have days like this, we’ve had days like this, so we’re not reading too much into it. I want to frame it that I don’t think anyone should read too much into it except that we finished the pre-season relatively healthy with improved method. It’s going to be challenging against Port Adelaide in round one over there, we know that.

We play six finalists from last year I think out of our first seven games or something like that, so we’ve got a significant challenge in front of us. We’re here to grow, we’re here to work hard, we’re here to improve. It’s been a good summer for that.


What are the Hills’ round one prospects.
They’re an outside chance. I thought, pessimistic me, they were no chance but they’re starting to move along . They’re an outside chance but clearly, people who played today will have the preference for playing. 

Is one Hill a better chance than the other?
Stephen went slow with a calf. It came out of nowhere and we were really concerned, we started to move along and he had a full summer. Bradley’s done everything, he unfortunately tweaked that quad. The two of them will take some time but it’s maybe less than a full grade (one) for Bradley so he’s moving along quite well now, so he would be more likely than not. But it’s not about round one. We know they’re quality and we can’t afford to risk injuring them for long periods. That would all come into the equation.


How do you rate Matt Taberner’s day and pre-season?
It’s interesting because he had a significant stress fracture in his leg, so he was off legs but he applied himself in the cross training and he worked really hard. He’s a big man and he’s starting to play quite big. I think us giving him some opportunities one-on-one has helped him as well and his ruck work’s improved.

Taberner’s period in the WAFL in 2017 seems to be a turning point for him?
I think sometimes coaching is about longer term affect and sometimes things are commented on and written. We know what the bigger picture is more than the player does and it’s not always palatable for the player but sometimes you have to go through the hard yards and come out the other side better for it. Clearly, it was about pressure and some other things, his ground ball, and he’s improved those things. At the end of the day, the kid’s done it himself, no-one does it for you.

Hayden Ballantyne played well and kicked a few goals today?
He improved his front and square work today. At his best he’s a front and squarer and sometimes we forget that and he forgets that, but he remembered that today. He front and squared really well. That’s when he’s really dangerous.

How do you see the small forwards fitting into the team with Brandon Matera coming in and Michael Walters playing forward on occasion?
I think Bailey Banfield was an important part of that. I’d think he’s going to play round one, you would think. That pressure, I’ve always believed, I’ve always coached that. We probably went away from that for a bit but we’re back on track in valuing it. The best teams are doing it and we’d like to jump on board of that as well. It creates a lot of opportunities as well for quick turnover guys.

Do you think Brayshaw’s done enough to play round one?
I can’t have match committee here. Andy, he’s played two good ones out of three. He was down the week before but I thought he was really sharp today. It’s always nice playing around (Nat) Fyfe, (David) Mundy, (Lachie) Neale and (Aaron) Sandilands. You’d probably get an opportunity to get a couple touches. He’s done everything right but we would like to play him. He’s an important part of our future and we want to get games into him.

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