Depth, Consistency Across The Park Key For Swans Coach

Friday, April 6, 2018 - 9:06 AM by Chris Pike

ADAM Pickering enjoyed making a winning start to his time at the helm of Swan Districts and it's ensuring that the black-and-whites are strong, even and consistent across the park that he hopes becomes their trademark in 2018.

Pickering's first game in charge at Swan Districts took place in Round 1 on Saturday at Lathlain Park with the end result a strong 45-point victory.

While Rhys Palmer's best on ground performance with 31 possessions, 19 clearances and three goals was the standout performance for Swan Districts, it was the evenness of the performance that was most pleasing from a Swans point of view in the win over the Demons.

As a result of the strong 45-point Round 1 win, there is a good feeling at Bassendean now ahead of the home opener this Saturday against the premiers of the last two years, Peel Thunder.

"The boys are feeling good about themselves after a good win and the ressies were gallant in defeat too being three men down on the bench as well," Pickering said.

"There is a really good feel and a good bit of confidence with the young guys coming through too."

Something Pickering wants to make a focus of in 2018 with Swan Districts is to have plenty of different avenues to goal and that includes those playing in the forward-line, and from the midfield.

That worked a treat on Saturday against Perth with not only Palmer kicking three goals, but Todd Banfield also booted three majors while Adam Faulkner, Matthew Rogers and Corey Gault all managed two apiece.

Brayden Noble was dangerous too with five shots on goal from his five kicks but he only managed 1.4.

With the ability of swapping Gault and Nathan Blakely between being the key forward and in the ruck, with Noble another target in attack and then Banfield, Warrick Wilson, Levi Ridley, Ethan Maguire and Rogers among those playing as small and mid-size forwards, Pickering likes the mix Swans can have in their forward half.

"We are trying to structure up where we won't be reliant on one or two guys and we want to share the load even through the midfield and forwards," he said.

"Hopefully that's a trend that we see through the year where we won't be relying just on Corey or 'Doc' Blakely clunking everything to kick our goals.

"Even though that would be nice but we don’t want to rely on anyone kicking bags for us to win. We're hoping to have an even spread so that we are a bit harder to match up on week to week."

While the front end worked well for Swan Districts in Round 1, the back-line stood up well too even without the retired legend Tallan Ames.

With the blend of the experienced Tony Notte, Kirk Ugle, Alex Howard and Laurence Grescos who have played a combined 456 WAFL games, and then emerging trio Tobe Watson, Brayden Hackett and Ben Holman in support Pickering likes to blend he has built there early in 2018.

"The pleasing thing on the weekend was that we had a lot of experience in our back seven with Tony Notte, Kirk Ugle, Alex Howard and even Laurence Grescos," he said.

"There is a lot of games under the belt there but the other guys had only about 25 between them in Tobe Watson, Brayden Hackett and Ben Holman. Those guys did an outstanding job for us for such inexperienced WAFL players.

"Tobe Watson especially is one to watch. He's a beautiful size, kicks the ball well, reads the game well and he's just a natural footballer. If he keeps growing and developing this year, there's no ceiling on what he can do."

Steven Payne was also making his Swan Districts debut on Saturday and the former East Perth wingman who played 109 games with the Royals and won a fairest and best award in a Grand Final year made a solid debut with 17 possessions and six inside-50 entries.

He is someone Pickering knows well from their time together at East Perth, and the Swans coach couldn’t be happier with how Payne has settled in at his new club.

"He's fitted in seamlessly. He is a very good worker, he doesn’t miss a session, he does all his weights and he trains at intensity. You see that on game day, he just runs his guts out and his GPS numbers are always through the roof," Pickering said.

"He has fitted in really well. He isn’t a loud guy or anything, he just gets the job done with a head down, bum up sort of attitude. The boys have really appreciated having another senior player amongst the squad."