With the challenge of no NEAFL competition in 2020, our development players are creating their own energy in the Sydney Swans hub and taking on the challenges thrown their way.
Swans Media caught up with Development Coach Jeremy Laidler who provided an update on the latest hit-out for the side and talked about ensuring the players are in a good mindset in these different times.
Swans Media: Tell us a little bit about the structure of the last hit-out for the reserves side in Queensland?
JL: We played a scrimmage against Collingwood on Thursday in Brisbane, it was 15 V 15 for the first 40 mins and then 12 v 12 for the next 20 minutes.
Swans Media: What were your thoughts on the match?
JL: Myself and Brett Kirk were pretty impressed with the whole team, the attitude across all the scrimmages and practice matches have been outstanding and we are treating them like a game and couldn’t be more pleased on how good the boys competed and their attitude towards the contest. They are just having a real crack at putting their names forward to play senior football. There were a few guys who came back from the seniors and their attitude was unbelievable which helped the young guys play good footy. Collingwood had a few guys that had played senior football and our guys didn’t take a backward step and just fronted up and cracked in and it was really pleasing, I couldn’t be happier with their performance.
Swans Media: Nick Blakey played in this game, how did he go?
JL: Nick was really good, he played a lot of midfield time and a little bit of forward time, just to get him around the ball and get his confidence up. His hit and tackle pressure and explosiveness out of the contest was really pleasing. We did this to him last year when he played a few senior games, he just needed a bit more confidence and we put him back to the 2s and put him in the midfield again and it helped him for the second half of the season. We are hoping he goes back up to the seniors and does what he did in the reserves game in the seniors game. It was really pleasing.
Swans Media: 2020 is throwing a lot of challenges, how are you handling the season in your role as Development Coach?
JL: It’s just another challenge. Like everyone in the football club we have had to adapt and adapt on the run because things change and things could change again tomorrow. I have really enjoyed it, we haven’t made any excuses and I have tried to have that attitude towards the players because I know if our attitude isn’t great it flows onto the players. We have had a really strong mindset each game and prepared like we are playing a NEAFL game. We do all the same pre and post game meetings, individual reviews are also the same so as much as things are different in 2020, we are still trying to get as many of these guys playing senior footy as we can. It’s about getting the mindset right before the game. It is challenging on the road, coming up to Queensland and now coming to Perth is different but to play like we have for the last few weeks has been really pleasing.
Swans Media: How satisfying has it been to see five young players (Dylan Stephens, Chad Warner, Matthew Ling, Elijah Taylor and Sam Wicks) make their debut this season?
JL: It’s been really pleasing, I try and do my little bit but it’s the players attitudes that have been the key to it and trying to play the best footy they can in the reserves. John Longmire said to the young guys when COVID-19 hit that we will need the whole squad and that’s what our mindset has been the whole time. Him saying that early days sort of gave a bit of a leaf or carrot and everyone is pushing towards that senior goal and hopefully staying in there. It helps the Club as a whole because if the young guys are pushing and putting pressure on them, the senior guys need to be more accountable too.
Swans Media: What will Perth look like for the development group?
JL: We are in strict quarantine so it will be tricky to play a scrimmage against the Giants while we are here, I think we have to wait until we are out of quarantine and I think we have a game lined up against Fremantle. I guess that’s a positive thing, we have been able to play VFL teams and WAFL teams which we haven’t been able to in the past, it’s been good. For example playing against Collingwood last week, you’re playing against guys you have never really seen before, it’s a good challenge. It will be another challenge this week because we don’t have a game to keep the boys up, we just have a training session. That said we have had that a couple of times, a couple of weeks with no games and those training sessions have been really good quality which have led into our games the week after. It all comes down to the players attitude and we try to get them into the right mindset for each week.
Some snaps from the action at South Pine today as our reserves had an impressive performance against the Giants. pic.twitter.com/4VOdeh73oF— Sydney Swans (@sydneyswans) July 31, 2020