You must be thrilled with the effort today?
Yes. We started a little bit slow and they played how we knew they would want to, to control the ball but we adjusted and really worked back in the game. The effort I can’t question, some execution (issues) and we spoke about our game situation… probably in the past we’ve put a little bit more into it but we‘ve been prioritising with a young group the fundamentals so it’s been a little bit costly at times. There’s times we got it done, but even that last stoppage was just 6 v 6, we should have been able to generate a plus one or a seventh in that vernacular and we didn’t get that done. It might be just not coughing the ball up in congestion, or switch the ball when it was on, but the bigger picture was probably the reality that we dominated entries in the last quarter and (Jake) Carlisle, who we had under control, in the end his height and mobility, he took four marks off our entry and I think they took six in the last quarter – or it might have been four of the first six. So that was a bit of frustration for us. That hadn’t occurred all day and then they were able to go forward and mount some pressure.
What’s the overriding emotion you’re feeling?
Of course, we are frustrated, we invest a lot. I would think our finals opportunity is closed but to come interstate and really compete like we did, I can’t really question the effort, we focus on improving our interstate preparation as a young group and ten or 11 of them would have done some things to enable them to hit the ground running and we worked back into the game. If you had thought it would be ten entries to start the last quarter, there’s a lot we did right, but of course I’m frustrated.
Just on game situation, do you think maybe you’re not spending enough time on it at training during the week?
Yeah, obviously we fell away a bit, we had to restructure and try and fix some of the fundamentals which we feel we did – our pressure, our competition and moving the ball but I think all clubs struggle for the time (with players) a bit.
It hasn’t worried me not having the runner to be honest because it challenges you game day but they’re probably examples of when you can send someone out and make sure it happens. But at the end of the day it’s our job to educate them, we run an incredibly lean program in the AFL and there’s probably some opportunity to take a little bit more time. We did it a lot earlier in the year but we try and keep them as fresh as we can. But look I’ll own that, it stops with the senior coach and that’s fine.
When you look back to the start, can you get your head around how you played against Geelong last week and how you’ve gone against the top teams and yet sometimes against the teams around you on the ladder you haven’t had the ability to start well or be intense for the whole four quarters.
I think that’s a little bit narrow, I don’t think you can question our intensity and effort today. Even at the start it was more we just didn’t number off very well and they were passing the ball around. When the ball was free we were competing, that was a non-issue, really we turned it over coming out of half-back that was the real issue in the first quarter. My view is and it’s only my view that I don’t think you could question any different intensity and effort last week to today. Probably today we didn’t take as many opportunities and with that smaller front half, last week we were probably able to bring it to ground because it was easier conditions but that height in the end, they marked it.
Do you reflect at all right now on the season?
Of course we reflect but not much.
Do you have any thoughts on Hayden Ballantyne in regard to a farewell game next week?
I haven’t had one conversation with Hayden, we’ve been driving to the line we’ll continue to drive to the line. It’s not something I’ve had a conversation about so I couldn’t elaborate.
Are you open to the idea of giving farewell games?
We’ve done it in the past, but we’ve just been driving to the line. Today we feel there’s been real growth, I think every team has some availability issues and I think there was an article today talking about someone that’s done a PHD study on it. I thought Membery and Bruce were really good for them today, if we could have Hogan, Taberner and Cox on the end of them bringing them to ground and Alex Pearce, Luke Ryan and Stephen Hill running off half back, and I think they had a few (players out). I think it’s really exciting for us going forward, we feel there’s been real growth in our system and our young players. Honestly, I’ve been driving to the line and I think everyone in this room can I understand I’ve been squarely focused on improving it, but at the right time you turn your intentions to anything that may come across your desk but that hasn’t come across my desk.
You coached Jack Steven toward the start of his career, how pleasing is it to see him back out there and seemingly enjoying life?
It’s not something I’d given thought to, but now you highlight it I think he kicked a clutch goal. We always want to see everyone succeed in the AFL, it’s an incredibly tough business, there’s enough people knocking you down and there’s some challenges and it’s great to see. I don’t know the depth of any challenge, but I think at every club there’s people you’d like to see play their best footy for the sake of the game and their club and certainly he did that today. Dan Hannebery is a very special player, I walked down at three quarter time and I could hear his leadership to his group. I’m really here to talk about Fremantle but I think it’s pleasing that you acknowledge a club champion returning for his club.