WINNING more games than last season is high on the agenda for any club aspiring to play finals.
While that may seem an obvious statement, it does ring with a lot of resonance at Echuca Football Club which is hoping to learn from what occurred in 2016.
The seniors ended last season one game short of a spot in the fi nals, but coach Andrew Briggs’ focus is now solely on what the Murray Bombers can build on in the future.
“We won’t be looking at last year’s results as we prepare for this year,” he said.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s a clean slate with a new team and we’ll be looking to make our own history.”
But there were some lessons he would carry into 2017.
“A majority of games last year we weren’t fit enough,” he said.
“We’ve tried to rectify that this year at pre-season in getting guys stronger.”
The club has enlisted strength and conditioning coach Mick Cannon to train players outside of football and has also brought in running coach Brady Threlfall to build general fitness.
Briggs said the club now knows the brand of football it wants its team to play and he expected his players to understand what’s asked of them and what good football looks like.
“It’s a hard league to win games in so it’s important to prepare the best we can and expect a contest every week, otherwise we won’t win as many games as we think,” he said.
Echuca has seen some departures in the off-season with a number of local players having made the move to other leagues—most notably Ben Reid (2016 club best and fairest) who will play for Geelong’s VFL side this season. But Briggs sees this as a positive for the remaining list and the juniors coming through as more opportunities become available on game day.
“No spot in the team is owned by any particular player so there’s no reason why the 17 or 19-year-olds, or even the 22-year-olds, can’t take any spot and feel like they deserve it,” he said.
“That’s if they’re prepared to do the work.”
And he already had a few players in mind to step up to the plate in 2017. Cameron Valentine was expected to build on the form he showed late in the 2016 season to have a big influence and Tyler Phillips, at more than 2 m tall, has developed his game to the next level to become a more consistent player.
“There were a number of young guys working hard to make sure they had good pre-seasons and hope opportunity comes their way,” he said.
The club’s performance has been on a gradual incline since Briggs arrived in the top job four seasons ago. And if it is to make any impact on the Goulburn Valley Football League in 2017, the team will have to find a way to eke out more victories.
The three keys
Echuca’s captain Jordan Florance is set to be a stand out again for the Bombers as a powerful forward. His strength will not only be in his playing ability as he is a strong leader on and off the field.
After retiring from SANFL football Ruory Kirkby will be key to Echuca’s forward line in 2017. With Cory Hargrave delivering the ball from the midfield goals won’t be hard to come by.
Echuca’s Tyler Phillips is a youngster with plenty of height on his side and has worked hard in the off-season to develop his game.