Coaches’ Corner: Showdown Edition

IN a 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.

It is over to Adelaide and to the Showdown for this week’s edition, where we heard from Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke and Port Adelaide coach Lauren Arnell.

The victorious Clarke was proud of his troops’ performance, especially considering the magnitude of the match and the build up prior.

“Obviously it was a big occasion and a big build up and we thought watching some of Port Adelaide’s first month of footy it was probably their tackle pressure that had been the standout feature,” Clarke said. “We set ourselves to absorb that and to obviously apply our own pressure back. I thought they did that pretty well.”

Like he has done many times prior, Clarke spoke so highly of Chelsea Randall, who after a 27-disposal and three-goal game was awarded the Showdown Medal.

“She was pretty good,” he said. “Clearly she is an exceptional player, you probably get sick of hearing how good she is but we are immensely fortunate to have her as part of our team. She has led from day one, and continues to do so.”

With his side not conceding a goal in the past fortnight, the obvious questions surrounding expansion and competition evenness were raised with Clarke.

“Obviously expansion sides in this year in particular are going to find it more challenging because the lead-in time into their season was so short, but I think it will rebalance really quickly,” he said. “The talent they’ve had access to through the draft, those players in two years time are going to be the standout players in the competition, so it’ll redress relatively quickly I think.

“The state based issue is an interesting one to keep exploring. If you take Queensland for instance their pathway is elite and they’ve just got a flood of talent coming through. So I think basically for NSW we’ve got to look at what they’re doing north of the [border] and replicate it, because clearly there’s a model there when in a non traditional footy state you’re able to generate talent.”

Meanwhile, the vanquished Arnell was pretty frank about the result and how things played out.  

“I think we saw the triple premiership team that the Crows are,” Arnell said. “The experienced and hardened football group against a young team.

“Certainly getting beaten like that at stoppage has a pretty heavy impact, particularly with the way the Crows set up with the ball in their forward line, so there’s plenty to learn for us. We’re disappointed that we won’t able to execute parts of the game that we came in with a plan, but the Crows showed they were the better side.”

“I think you’ve got to take lessons out of every single game. Lessons that we’ve taken have placed us well from very early on in the season. We’ll continue to do that. We’re very much looking forward to next week, Saturday night against Hawthorn.”

When asked if a result like the one they suffered on Saturday night would do any “damage” to a young side like hers, Arnell shook her head and said “I’m very proud of the group of young women we have in our club, I know they take plenty of learning from every single game of footy they play and they stick together.”

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