Draft losses have been gains: Goosey

Dolphins coach Simon Goosey discusses the process of building the 2012 wooden spooners into a finals contender, identifies some new potential fan favourites and talks about covering the loss of three stars to the AFL.

FD: Simon, talk us through the process you went through at the end of last season planning for 2013?

SG: We knew our main improvement had to come from the list, from the kids we had put the work into. To be successful you’ve got to have that core group and we identified those guys and signed them up.

Then we identified a few key areas we fell down in. One was the ruck where we had no presence, hence the reason we have signed big Russ (Gabriel).

The other area we fell down in was the forward line and we’ve picked up some good forwards, and we were very keen to sign some good young talent to complement our core, and we've added some great Stingrays kids amongst others.

Last season the team was very competitive in almost every game, what were the necessary on-field changes you identified to turn close losses into wins?

Right from the start in 2010 we set out to play an attacking brand of football so when we came out the other side we could win finals games.

Because of that, unforced turnovers have hurt us, those 12-point turnarounds.

Experience makes you a better player, gives you more knowledge and allows you to cut around 10 per cent of them out, and 10 per cent of those 12-point turnarounds will make a big difference.

We’ve been doing a lot of game-sense training and putting them in those situations and the kicking has really improved over pre-season.

The Stingrays kids have really impressed in pre-season, but what about two mature-aged MPNFL recruits in Chris Irving and Scott Simpson?

I think I've tried to get Chris here every year. I was updating my phone last season and deleting numbers I didn’t need and I deleted his, so I had to get it off his brother!

I tell you, you wouldn’t want to be on the opposite side to him at training, because he’s just a tackling machine. He brings a big body who really splits the pack and he demands a lot off his teammates too which I've been impressed with, he brings a fair bit of leadership.

My first year I interviewed Scotty Simpson when he came back from Geelong but we couldn’t get him, he ended up going to Casey where he didn’t really play much.

He’s done what he has to do now, played a couple of years of local footy and gotten over his injuries. The thing that really stands out is his work ethic, it’s just fantastic, even in rehab you see him just working and working and working.

Some people will be sceptical about the Dolphins making big improvements given Leigh Osborne, Kyle Martin and Dylan Van Unen were drafted and Toby Thoolen has gone to Port Melbourne. Are they big losses and how do you cover them?

They are definitely losses, but if you look at the loss of the drafted players it is actually a gain for us. They’ve allowed us to become a club of choice, where three years ago it was a hard sell.

With Eastlink and Peninsula Link there’s no bottleneck now, which makes us more accessible, and kids see the guys who got drafted and see that opportunity is there by playing at Frankston because you get played on your merits.

So although they're losses they are gains because we have picked up a lot more good players than we’ve lost.

Finally, who are some of the new players you think will become fan favourites with the Dolphins loud and proud faithful?

As you know I have a soft spot for forwards and I think Sam Lloyd and Michael Lourey from Mt Eliza are exciting players. They take a nice pack mark and they’ll kick some goals.

Chris Irving in the middle will win the fans, as a supporter they’ll love seeing what he’s capable of with his tackling.

A few of the youngsters, Billy Rolfe has some real dash and Jackson Coleman from Sandringham will surprise a few this year. He’s kicked five goals in the VFL as a forward but we see him as a key defender to replace Toby, he’s one of the fittest players at the club.

* The Dolphins practice matches start this Saturday against the Coburg Tigers at Frankston Park.
Other games are against Port Melbourne (9 March - home), Casey (16 March, away) and Sandringham (23 March, home)


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