Coaches Corner: Round 2 Season 7 edition

IN a new weekly series at Rookie Me Central, we cast our eyes and ears around the league to gather thoughts from AFL Women’s coaches, and see what they had to say post their respective matches on the weekend.

This week we hear from the two coaches who faced off at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday – St Kilda’s Nick Dal Santo and Hawthorn’s Bec Goddard.

The victorious Dal Santo was “really pleased” with his side’s initial effort, with the Saints clearly building on the small glimpses of promise shown last season.

“Clearly there’s still a long way to go to be able to compete with the very best in the competition, but we’ve been very open about the desire to get better, and the ownership where we can’t sit on what we need to do,” Dal Santo said.

“Last week was a big challenge travelling, which we don’t get to do a great deal heading up to North Sydney which was a unique ground, going up against a team clearly playing their first game with a lot of younger players.

“But I was really pleased with the way we conducted ourselves, and obviously the result was really exciting, and then the challenge today was can we back it up and can we find that desire to compete again? I sit right now really comfortable and proud of the group now has put in two good performances to start the season.”

He was also full of praise for some of his star players, including Kate Shierlaw, Nicola Stevens, and vice-captain Bianca Jakobsson.

“Clearly I thought Kate was stellar last week kicking the four goals, and Nic Stevens didn’t get the reward for effort tonight and maybe even last week as well,” he said. “Her work rate, her competitiveness is sensational, it’s enormous.

“I just feel there will be a day where it goes her way, and even a couple of times today she got her hands on the football and there were a couple of free kicks paid just prior, so she didn’t get the chance to impact probably as much as she would have liked to, but her role working in with Kate, working in with Caitlin [Greiser] as well… it takes everybody to make those pieces work.”

“BJ works in with our defenders as well. Without the other defenders Beej probably can’t play to her strengths, but she’s a really good player. I mean she’s been really stable, her leadership you won’t be able to see from the outside but her growth as a leader this season has been sensational.”

Dal Santo touched on the task his side faces next week in tackling fellow undefeated side Melbourne. He said that next week’s game will “be a great measurement” for his side, and a real challenge against one of the competition’s premier sides.

Meanwhile in the Hawks camp, Goddard and her team are “trying to steer away from the stats and the scoreboard” after a second trying loss for the relatively young lineup.

“We’ve got such a young team, and you look at it and think ‘well we got to see some great things out of some young players today,'” she said. “Charlotte Baskaran in the last quarter especially, Lucy Wales got to spend a lot of time in the ruck today, and we had 11 debutants today that played their first AFLW game last week, so we got to see some things and it’s all part of the progress.

“We know that this year is going to be one of those seasons where we just have to lay our foundations and get that love and care for each other right, and it certainly hurt when two of our leaders and really experienced players go down really early in the game, there’s no doubt about that.”

Goddard has some plans in place to get her side up for their next match against Richmond despite the loss.

“I think we’ll look at the things we did really well, and if you sort of take that first quarter out where St Kilda put four goals away, there was lots of parts of the game that we really liked,” she said.

“We’ll head in to next week doing the things we love to see hopefully, and we’ll have to make some selection changes and see what the break down of the team and make up of the team and see what we can bring in to fill some experience and maybe some new faces into the team.”

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