Pickering Primed For Senior Coaching Debut at Swans

Friday, March 30, 2018 - 6:00 PM by Chris Pike

NEW Swan Districts coach Adam Pickering is excited, humbled and nervous all at the same time heading into his first official WAFL game in charge this Saturday as the black-and-whites begin the season against Perth at Lathlain Park.

For the first time since the 2010 Grand Final, Greg Harding won't be the man coaching Swan Districts into battle in a WAFL league contest this Saturday, although he will be at the helm of the colts team again in 2018.

But following a long apprenticeship after a strong playing career, it's Pickering who will be the man coaching Swan Districts for the 2018 WAFL season. His first game in charge will be this Saturday against the Demons at Lathlain Park.

Since Pickering retired following his 111-game WAFL career at East Perth after the 2010 preliminary final loss to Swan Districts, ironically at Steel Blue Oval, he has been building his apprenticeship to become a league coach at some stage.

He coached both at colts and reserves level at Perth and East Perth to good success while also being a league assistant, so when Harding decided to stand down at Swans at the end of 2017, Pickering soon became the standout candidate.

Now following a full pre-season at the helm, Pickering is preparing for his first official WAFL game in charge.

He's looking forward to getting to Lathlain Park on Saturday, but that's not to say the last several months haven’t been a steep learning curve.

"I'm excited, a bit humbled as well I guess and a little bit nervous too ahead of the first game. It was a goal when I finished playing to coach a WAFL side so I'm really looking forward to it. Especially at a club like Swan Districts," Pickering said.

"The biggest challenge without doubt is managing the 55 or 60 different personalities of fully grown men plus staff, at least that's what I have found so far.

"And getting guys to buy in and managing those personalities is a challenge, but I think we're almost there and I think the guys really enjoyed the pre-season."

A significant reason why Pickering was so excited to take over the job at Swan Districts was because of the talent he has seen come through the club since he arrived in Perth to first play in the WAFL with East Perth back in 2004.

Anyone from Alex Rance to Nic Naitanui, Michael Walters, Jeff Garlett, Lewis Jetta, Stephen Coniglio, Rory Lobb, Charlie Cameron and Connor Blakely have come from Swan Districts to become AFL stars.

Pickering has seen a lot of them all close up either as a player or a coach, and now he's looking forward to harnessing the talent currently at Swans and that is coming through the ranks.

"Since my time in WA, there would be 30-plus draftees coming from the colts and senior program at Swan Districts so there is a huge talent base in our zone," he said.

"It's just about harnessing that talent and getting them to commit fully to this program and WAFL footy. The sky is the limit for a lot of those guys."

Swans' most significant signing of the off-season was that of former Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney and Carlton 123-game AFL player Rhys Palmer.

Pickering is confident he will be right to play on Saturday in the season-opener despite an ankle injury suffered in last Saturday's pre-season win over Claremont.

As for the bigger picture, he couldn’t be happier already with what it appears Palmer will provide on and off the field to Swan Districts.

"I'm confident he will play. He just has to get through Thursday night training, which is the captain's run. He will be selected and I think he's earned that. In terms of his influence on the field, I think he will be a very good WAFL midfielder," Pickering said.

"But off the field is the big area. Seeing him around our young group, because we do have a top end talent of 10 to 12 good senior WAFL players and then our squad is young with most guys 23 or 24 and under.

"His influence with them with their training habits, doing extra and building their confidence has been the biggest influence he's had so far."