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Lyon post-match Q & A - JLT2 v West Coast

'Our pressure has lifted and our contest is strong' Lyon Ross Lyon declares skipper Nathan Fyfe a certain starter for the season opener but explains a cloud remains over Bradley Hill and Sean Darcy

What do you read into that Ross?
The players are off our preparation phase so we now shift to round one, although there will be a number of players that play with Peel next week.

Just to clarify Nathan (Fyfe) won’t be one of those, he will just go straight into round one.

We got (Reece) Conca and Sean Darcy through so we will look at that and see who needs another hit. But really pleased with our first half, we didn’t see the third quarter coming but we got comprehensively beaten around the ball, specifically clearances, centre-square bounces, centre-back clearances and it was a trend for the day.

So the positive was on possession gain and kick-ins, which is the biggest score sources typically so they weren’t identical but we were really quite strong in that area. The ability to take it forward, lock it in, get it back and have shots, that was strong. Specifically centre-square bounce and their forward 50 – they kicked 6-2 out of there. Which is really high and they had 17 of their entries out of the middle to our three. 

Last week we were super against Collingwood, although didn’t defend our entries that well, this week we were not very good in there but we defended quite well.

I just said to the players, one thing I do know is around those stoppages, they can be fixed. There’s some really big learnings in there, we need to take them out and make sure round one that we are prepared for those issues that they faced in there today.

So we tick off a summer where we feel our young players have grown – (Andrew) Brayshaw, (Adam) Cerra and those types. We’ve exposed them, some new recruits in – they’re still blending in but there’s some good signs with Jesse (Hogan) and (Rory) Lobb and Conca and (Travis) Colyer and those guys. And we think our signature - the way we are moving the ball - there is certainly less overuse. We are a more direct team and we give ourselves opportunities.

The third quarter was obviously disappointing, but I certainly walk away thinking we have made some bigger in-rails in some certain area. 

We lost (Brennan) Cox early to a hamstring, we found that unbalanced us – it was an important selection decision but that still didn’t affect us around the score.

What about the sheer difference in numbers of clearances – is there a concern it was so big?
I did say we were comprehensively beaten in there and that’s where we need to improve. I think I said we had 3 entries to 17 but we defended it well at 11 per cent – they kicked two goals, whereas they kicked four goals last week.

So it was certainly in there (the middle) – if you want specific numbers it was really our defensive mid versus our attacking mid it was 1 to 10, they had 10 entries, but they kicked 1.2 which is about right – 30 per cent. But in the D50 it was 6 v 10 and they 6 goals 2 which is a really big number. On average a good day is maybe one against in there, a bad day is maybe 2/ 2.1 so to have 8 shots - but I think three were from kicks taken out of the ruck - but there were concerns but they were good learnings so we take them away.

Stoppages you can break down and learn. The first thing you do, and you don’t want to be personnel based – but if you throw Fyfe back in there, there’s probably 10 clearances and the backs get a bit smarter and don’t get walked out of the way , and there’s a couple more. mid’s learn to disconnect and don’t get towed around – there’s a couple more.

So mechanically, in the centre-bounce they either tapped it very well, or we showed our back or we didn’t join in. It was always a concern coming here - a six day break off our first hitout in 40 degree heat in Joondalup, I was really concerned. Off a well-rested premiership team building to round one – they were eight days, a strong team – we’re off six… it wasn’t ideal. 

We talk about player availability and people getting hurt in the JLT series – well the big picture is when you schedule teams off their first hit out, at least give them a normal break of seven days – that would be nice.

We will be able to voice that – I’m sitting here thinking I came here concerned and I walk away concerned with it – that’s the bigger picture stuff.

Do you talk to the AFL about that?
I fly over next week and we will sit down, I find the doors open  and we can talk.

That’s one reason – can we attribute Cox to a six-day break off your first hit out.. probably – I’m not too sure.

How bad is Cox’s injury?
He’ll have scans tomorrow and we will wait for the scans to come in and not pre-empt anything – we will give you an update at the right time

Why did Matt Taberner only play one half for Peel Thunder?
He tightened up with a hamstring or a calf - so that’s not ideal either. He’ll have scans tomorrow as well.

So ideally and structurally, you’d like either like Cox or Taberner to be there with Hogan and Lobb?
Yes 100%, but other than that we’ll just be a bit smaller and quicker, so that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Do you excuse the midfield numbers a bit given the guys you have missing from there?
Yeah there’s a little bit of time needed in young players, we put Cerra back in there and we were going to put Conca back in, but we didn’t. We’d like to be a lot better than we were and based off last week we were strong there so there’s just a bit of inconsistency. But again, we feel like our pressure has lifted, our contest, typically, has been strong, we’re penetrating with the ball and getting it back. I said to the boys at three quarter time, we just have to win it at the source more out of the middle and around the ground and to their credit I think it was 13 entries to 15 and we have to be able to take those marks and hit those targets. I thought the Eagles looked more polished, but they’re the reigning premiers and we have to work hard to catch teams of that ilk.

Do you think it’s going to be harder for the teams to adjust to the 6-6-6 if you are losing center clearances?
Well tactically there’s not a lot you can do, you can’t roll numbers up. I think that is the most significant change, there’s teams that have played 6-6-6 but everyone used to think you used to play a 7-man defence, but it was really a 7
th man sweeper off the back to join up and mop up any mess. He never stayed as a 7th defender but he just helped take care of that threat, whereas at the minute I think they’re coming out quite well.

Do you like the 6-6-6 setup?
It’s not for me to judge, I just play what’s in front of me and control the controllables

Bradley Hill’s injury?
Corked Calf. I was a bit nervous when I saw him limping off, but it was a corked calf, so we are really confident there.

Did it do enough to be doubtful for Round 1?
We would think he would get up, but it would have to be a bad cork for him not to.

How do you handle the next couple of weeks?
Well we look to improve, it’s really good feedback - what we’re doing well, keep improving our signature, our contest and our run, freshen them up and get to the mechanics on how a good midfield pulled us apart around some stoppages. That’s not rocket science, we can get to that, that can be done with everyone buying in. Their heads are up, I mean, we were the opposites last year weren’t we up in Joondalup, there was a bit of a false economy there, but we think it’s been a really buoyant summer of hard work and strong dynamic. We’ve seen the improvement, but we’ve got some sharp feedback on where some weaknesses are and how we need to improve them quickly but we’re excited to get to round 1 at Optus Stadium and be led by our skipper and our leaders and get to work. I’d focus on our first half and our response in the last quarter. Some people will focus on our third, but I can’t control that, I’m more excited about what our best looks like and we just have to get more consistency with that.

Reece Conca’s game?
I thought for his first hit-out really, he played with good composure across half back, showed strong leadership and really, looked like a player who was resuming and getting the cob webs out. I think there were some really good signs for us.

What about Hogan and his mobility around the ground?
I just think if we can give him some opportunities, I’m interested to see how well he can play. When it’s not going down there I just said go and put yourself in there son, get a kick. But again, he’s still building, so he’ll be better for the run. He’s been a credit to himself with his preparation, his buy-in and his desire to be part of the team coming off a navicular injury. It’s been an amazing recovery and to talk about buy-in, from my end it’s been faultless.

Does McCarthy come into the mix now with those other injuries?
It’s a really good point. We’ll get to selection I’m still digesting the centre square bounce numbers and I don’t want to get stuck on numbers, but it was comprehensive, and we need to fix it quick but we’re confident it can be done.

Jesse Hogan gave Hayden Ballantyne a bit of a spray, do you like to see that as a coach?
All the great teams give sharp feedback and there was no sharper feedback, did you hear me from the box? Ballas (Ballantyne) should’ve seen him and passed to him, that’s the polish I’m talking about. Rather than hitting that 8/10 times, we want to be hitting that 10/10 times. It’s not Ballas consciously, we just need to see that and hit it. It’s important to give feedback.