Coach Leon Cameron caught up with Dwayne Russell, Gerard Healy and Matthew Richardson on 3AWs’s Sports Today with a full wrap of everything happening at the club. Here’s what he had to say:
On game style
I think definitely, definitely, we have a responsibility to play an attractive brand of football. We’re in a market where there’s a number of sporting organisations in Sydney and NSW and we need to make sure that we’re enticing people to come and look at our brand. If you’re enticing people to come then you want to have a pretty good brand and that’s probably leaning towards more of an attacking brand of football. We’ve got better defensively over the last couple of years but we’ve still got a bit to go. Clearly we still want to hit the scoreboard and score.
On 2016 expectations and development
Obviously we’re coming into our fifth year, we know the expectations are going up internally. It’s more internally than externally. Externally the expectation is to win more games than we lose but internally we challenge our players that we need to go a step further. There’s players that have played 60, 70, 80 games now and they understand different ways to defend and different ways to score. We don’t just score with run and hands out of the back end now, we’ve actually got to look at ways; if you can lock the ball in your front half for five minutes then during that period of time, find a way to score than instead of just relying on one avenue. I think we’re becoming a bit more rounded, we’ve still got a long way to go, but we are finding different avenues and different ways to score.
On kicking skills
Definitely, definitely we’ve worked on using the ball better by foot. You can kick better if you’ve got good decision-makers. I’m a big believer that decision-making makes better kickers. We’re getting better, we’ve done an enormous amount of work on that but also the pressure side of it. Naturally sometimes when young players come in to a team, like we’ve started up from scratch, defence is probably not the word they want to hear about. We’ve worked a lot on keeping the ball in our half of the ground but also our closing pressure, we feel as though we’ve got to have an appetite to tackle. We like to do that and that’s been pretty pleasing over the NAB Challenge.
On Stevie J
We did a lot of reference-checking on Steve, just about character and all that sort of stuff. You see what he’s done; triple premiership player, 15 years at the Cats and it’s never going to be forgotten that he was a superstar of that footy club. Someone said to me that he’s just that competitive and I thought ok, how competitive can a 32-year-old be. Sometimes you lose that when you’re in the back-end of your career but he’s just super competitive at training and wants to win everything but I didn’t know how competitive he was. I think that’s rubbing off on our young forward group to say, be hard to play on. If you’re really competitive, even though you might get beaten, be really hard to play on and I reckon that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve seen from him. He’s had a really good pre-season. He was the first one to say he’s got to do a good pre-season, his body probably failed him in the last couple of years with some injuries. We put it to him that he’s got to do a lot of the work, and he has, and now we’ve got him into a shape where he’s really confident in his body and where that leads to this year, only time will tell.
On Jeremy Cameron’s suspension
I’m not going to let anyone off the hook if we feel as though they’ve done the wrong thing. Jeremy’s disappointed, probably not as disappointed as me, but he’s probably equal. The rules are there, to tackle instead of bump. Jeremy’s made a split-second decision that he regrets and all of a sudden he’s going to sit out for four games. I’m disappointed in the action but I’m never going to hang a player out to dry. He’s a terrific kid, he’s a fantastic and integral part of our footy club and I know he’ll come back bigger and better. We make mistakes and he’s the first one to admit he’s made a mistake.
On Cam McCarthy
There’s no doubt there’s been some trying times in terms of the last six months. He’s a super kid, he’s a popular young lad at our footy club and in footy in general. That sort of talent you don’t want sitting out. If (training with an amateur club in Perth) is the best thing for Cam to re-engage in his passion to play the game, then definitely we will look at it. The main thing we’ve said all along is as long as Cam’s healthy, he’s starting to re-gain that passion to play footy again - I’ve always said he’s too good of a person and too good of a player to be not playing AFL footy - If that’s a step in the right direction to train with a local club then there’s no doubt we’ll definitely look at that.
On General Manager of Football position
The good thing about there’s about 10-15 good candidates that want this job because it’s a great opportunity; it’s a young club, starting out, coming into it’s fifth year. We feel as though we’re making some ground so we’re going to have an enormous amount of good, quality applicants for this job and we’re really confident with the process and we’re going to get the right person in the next month or two.
On Melbourne in round one
They’ve won their three NAB Challenge games playing a really good brand of footy - defence and offence - they’re well-coached by Paul (Roos) and Simon (Goodwin) and you can clearly see they’re making serious ground like us. We’re young sides that are making some ground. Obviously we went to the draft to build the footy club, they’ve gone to the draft as well and they’ve added some mature players, like us. It’s going to be a cracking game and we look forward to it next Saturday. To open up a the MCG in round one is great for us.