Just before we start, I really just want to acknowledge GWS and the sacrifices that they have made, both as a club and the players and staff to make sure the season could get underway. They couldn’t have had many more things go wrong, but for them to turn up today and play with the spirit they did is a testament to the group and to the club. I think on behalf of all the other 13 clubs, we really appreciate what they have done to get the season underway.
There’s a lot going on today – we’ll start with the match, what did you think of that?
I was really happy overall with the whole match. Our pressure was really good all day. We didn’t play well in the second quarter and I thought Alyce Parker played really well and got them up and about in that quarter. We responded well to those challenges and I thought our last half was really good and we were really happy to come away with a solid win against some quality opposition.
Gemma Houghton’s match – especially that third quarter – what did you make of her today?
She’s had two really good years but her pre-season this year has been outstanding. I was really hopeful that it would translate into her performance today to give her the confidence that the hard work she has done has been worthwhile. I know she kicked three goals but the 19 touches and the way that she was working up the field to help get the ball into our forward 50 was really instrumental. I was really rapt for her that she delivered.
She’s such an exciting player to watch, what was it like for you as a coach to see her do her thing?
She is. She makes a few mistakes, and we encourage that. The more mistakes she makes, normally the better she plays, so we really encourage her to take the game on and I don’t think there is anyone like her in the AFLW. She can make things happen that no one else can and when she does, she can break the game open for us. She is a pleasure to coach and really adds a lot to our team.
Your forward line is so dangerous - you had Kara Antonio and Gabby O’Sullivan in there – what did you make of the forwards today all working together?
Gabby has been really good for a couple of years and has been another one who has had a really good pre-season. Like you said, her quick hands make a big difference. We’ve had quite a few injuries in the lead up to the season and they have been to quite a few of our forwards. The decision to play Kara forward was only made a week ago when we looked at our balance and we were short in the forward line on numbers. Kara is such a steadying influence. She trained with the forwards for a week and a half. She really sets them up and keeps them honest and it is a valuable asset for us when we can have our captain and one of our best players move to any of the three lines. I thought she was really important today.
She looked like she was enjoying herself too?
Yeah, she did. She enjoyed it at training straight away. They are a different group our forwards and they definitely get up and about. Kara is normally a lot more serious but she has taken that in her stride and had to be a bit stupid with the others as well. She enjoyed that change, she came out of two weeks of quarantine so I think she was happy to just be with anyone when that opportunity arose. It was great she was able to hit the scoreboard late as well.
You were originally scheduled to go to Adelaide (for round two), do you know if that can still go ahead?
I don’t know. I think there is a fair chance it could. There’s obviously quite a few different scenarios that could play out. We just have to be ready for all of them. We just went through a few things then with the group, just to be ready for different changes and different things. It’ll be a bit of an anxious time for some of them with their work and things like that but overall the group has responded really well with the news of what has happened today. We are really looking forward to helping the season go on whenever it does.
Trent you would’ve been on the same plane as the Eagles, what day was that scheduled for?
I’m not sure that we were on the same plane. We were going on Saturday but West Coast wouldn’t have made it in time for the game. We might have been coming back on the same one, I’m not sure. We were supposed to be flying Saturday and coming back Sunday but I’m not exactly sure on the Eagles.
If the club does have to spend a few weeks interstate how are the girls prepared for that in terms of jobs? Is that doable?
It’s going to be a case-by-case basis and we have already raised the possibility with the employers as well. The employers already make a few sacrifices themselves; we think they get paid back by the standard of the girls that we’ve got and with what they do in their job. We think the employers will help us wherever they can, and the girls will repay them back in spades when the time comes. The exact numbers of who can go probably depends on how long and when it starts but we will deal with that on a case-by-case basis when we get there.
The announcement about the impending lockdown was made 30-odd minutes before bouncedown, did any of the players know before or did you make the decision not to tell them?
We sort of got a whisper, but we didn’t know how serious it was at that stage, so we didn’t think there was any point in having them panic before the game, so we let that go. We told them as soon as we possibly could straight after the game, so we just decided to let it go through and make the call after. They handled the news really well.
Injury wise, how did you come out of today?
Yeah, I think we will be alright. Mim Strom had been struggling with an ankle but she got up for today. We did look after her and that’s why she didn’t take as many centre bouncedowns as normal, but she should be better next week and right to go. Kiara Bowers just had a ‘corkie’ not that it slows her down and she will probably be angry at me for resting her in the last few minutes, but I’ll deal with that later on!
Just that third quarter as well – once you gain momentum it’s so hard to stop. Where did you feel the game flicked for you guys in that quarter?
Our midfield got back on top and Alyce Parker got pushed back into our back half to help out there and when she was there she wasn’t doing the work that she was doing earlier on, so that was critical to us. Our forward pressure was great so when they were clearing the ball we were able to get it straight back in. Once we get on a roll it is pretty hard to stop and our backline, I thought were fantastic all day. When GWS did clear it, we took a lot of intercept marks which puts a lot of pressure on the opposition.