Pre-Season Update from Senior Coach Adrian Connolly
2013- Momentum Building
After the slow build up to preseason training from the core of our senior players I am glad to report to the Mazenod Old Collegians Community that we had 97 players train on Wednesday night. Yes 97 senior and U/19 players and surely this must be some record. Wednesday was a realistic look at how the enthusiasm for the challenges ahead has built as we have grown from 78 the following Wednesday. To see so many players training together regardless of age or team gives everyone a real lift about the commitment the boys have this season. The season starts a week earlier but we have 8 sessions less than last year due to the fall of dates. So players are now realising they have 4 weeks until our 1st Practice match against Whitefriars OB, then games against Old Brighton (Prem B) and Ajax (Prem B). We start April 13th with a replay of last year’s 1st semi against Marcellin on our new ground.
Much preparation has gone into the planning and recruiting of players that share our passion and dream, and we could not be happier with the additions we have made to our playing list. To gain the experience of a 200 game AFL player, and more important a Mazenod Old Boy in Heath Black has added a real sense of excitement for the players. Heath has been very proactive developing our leadership and culture within the club, already conducting 2 club sessions. Heath appears to have lost none of his passion and desire for the game and has trained as hard as anyone. As excited as we were to hear Heath was returning we were ecstatic when former U/19 players Gus Patti and Michael Johnson agreed to play. Both have matured their games playing at Casey and I know that both are really keen to have a big impact on the team and competition in 2013.
We have at this stage 19 new players to choose from for senior footy and we are genuinely excited to get 9 players from last year’s runner up U/19 team. Pat Flanagan, Steve Welsford, Nick Jook, James Verbyla, Lucas Terry, Louis Greco, Lachie Mann and John Paul Malietzis have all trained regularly and want a chance to prove themselves at the top level. We have also welcomed back Grant Lofthouse, Michael Adams, Ben Devlin, Michael Meehan, Scott Veltman, James Mather, Fred Deegan, Michael Regan and Matt Rich. We have seen new players in Chris Heywood, Scot Fraser, Dan Crech, Ben Fazio, Jason and Zen. We welcome all our new players and look forward to watching them in 2013.
One of the major sources of excitement at the club has been the appointment of Gerard Noone and his team (Peter Riley, Tony Masters and John Cincotta) and the 40 new U/19 players that have trained on a regular basis. We have had an influx of 25 Mazenod Old Collegians from year 12 students last year and also 10 current students all committed to playing. These boys have brought their mates and we now have a fantastic group of players who will no doubt be the core of the club for years to come. A number of the boys including Josh Trounce, John Paul Van Rensburg and Rob McCarthy have all trained extremely well and will push for senior selection.
I am pleased to announce that Ryan ‘Muggs’ Power will be my full time assistant in 2013, with Ben Phibbs, Steve Stanley and Chris Thomas all offering their support. We are really lucky to have Scott Azzorpardi and Paul McGowan continue their roles and it gives the players a real sense of stability about football.
At presentation night last year I challenged the players to respect the opportunity we have in season 2013. We have started to work hard at training, we have recruited as hard as we can and now they have to work together for success. Wins will not be given to us because of names or expectation from others. We need to earn by the way we prepare and play.
I look forward to seeing you all in our new pavilion in what is shaping as a fantastic year for the club.