Coach Q and A – Adam Pickering Round 10

Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 5:01 PM by Chris Pike

SWAN Districts coach Adam Pickering spoke after Sunday's loss to Claremont at Steel Blue Oval and he has plenty of questions he's trying to find answers to as he attempts to keep the black-and-whites' season afloat and search for that elusive third win of 2019.

QUESTION: It's a familiar story. You fight so hard for three quarters and do so much right, but just can't put the score on board. Then the opposition overruns you. I don’t know what it is, but it's a familiar story now?
Yeah it is, it's a disappointing one as well. It's getting old too, it really is. We came up against a pretty experienced and well-drilled outfit. Their midfield bats pretty deep with four or five really good senior WAFL players that go through there all day, and they just out-ground us in the end. Even at half-time, I came in saying that it was a great first half from the boys against a really good outfit so we'd done well to be in front and playing the way we want to play. We kept them to three goals and two of those three goals were probably from our mistakes or lack of concentration. So we could have easily had a better lead at half-time so there are some positives. But then as the game wears on which is the familiar story, we either run out of gas or the more mature bodies against us seem to catch up and our nine or 10 young guys with under 15 games of experience just can't sustain the effort. Then that carries onto our senior guys like Riggs, Tony and Howie because they carry so much of the load that they get tired as well. It's a familiar, disappointing story.

Q: It's not an effort thing because clearly the players are giving you their all out there so there isn’t much point going in and berating them. When that's the case, what do you talk to the group and how do you try to get a chance when it's not an effort problem?
It probably can't change overnight unfortunately. We're talking about this as a club and it's a bit of a long game with those nine or 10 players that have played under 15 games, we can't just click our fingers and all of a sudden they are cleaner, fitter and stronger as players. It's going to take time and it's about us as coaches creating an environment that they want to be at and that makes them want to get better. If they want that, then they will. We had two more debutants this week and Jordie Bill is a great story. He has been in the senior squad for three years and plugged away, and didn’t play the first four or five games in the reserves even last year. But he's worked hard at his craft and he was pretty solid out there. And Patty Farrant, we dropped him from the reserves five weeks ago but he's taken that on board and turned it around to play some pretty good footy. There are some good signs there and some positive signs coming through, but our job is to fast track them and get them up and going as quickly as possible. I do believe that if we do get over the line for a good, strong win that it might just change our mindset.

Q: When you got the job after that 2017 season, you might have had 10 really top level, experienced WAFL players. Now that's probably down to just Riggio, Notte, Hampson, Howard, Payne, Gault and Ellard, with no disrespect to others who could get to that level. The reality is you're just lacking manpower?
That is the reality. We put up a list just after the game and I reckon we had eight and there were probably a couple there like Jesse Turner and Warrick Wilson who still haven’t reached their potential, and they are still young in their careers. The genuine, senior WAFL footballers is probably down to five or six for us right now and it's not going to change overnight, it takes time to develop them.

Q: You look at those senior players as well and they are playing well, you can't ask for more from them either?
Yeah we are and they're probably doing even a little bit more because they are carrying such a load for us. Then they get tired naturally and once they get tired, it sort of drops off pretty quick for us.

Q: You just can't find enough of the footy and that's been a trend through the whole season now. I'm sure it's not your direction to win 100 less possessions a week, but what can you do about it?
We're trying to develop these guys as midfielders or as wingmen or just league footballers. I look at this game and Kane Mitchell has 38 and that's not on talent necessarily, that's on work rate. He is a senior, strong-bodied player in this competition who runs and runs and runs. We're trying to get that into our habits for our young guys but it takes time. If you want to get the footy, you have to run. This is not junior footy for them anymore, this is WAFL and you have to switch the footy, lower your eyes and you have to run where the space is. But when they get tired, they just can't sustain that running ability and that effort that we need. We have to find some guys who can find the footy, it's as simple as that.

Q: Your forward-line is interesting too. There are times when Kohlmann, Noble and Gault look dangerous, but the ball's just not getting there enough to probably fairly judge how they are performing?
We've been discussing if we might be a little bit too tall with Gault, Blakely, Noble and Kohlmann. Sometimes three of them are down there and we can't put the pressure on we'd like if it doesn’t get marked. It's a difficult one to answer because we work so hard on defensive structures as well as forward structures, so you go into half-time with a game like this and it's four goals to three. We're happy to keep Claremont to three goals at half-time but we only kicked four ourselves despite playing well. The reality is that in the last half of the last two games, so those two second halves, we've had 18 inside 50s. So it doesn’t matter how dangerous the forward-line is if they don’t see the ball. That's from getting beaten up around the footy and not having a deep enough midfield that can go all day. In the second halves, they just can't find the footy and get it in there. I don’t know whether it's the functionality of that forward-line or if we're just not giving them enough opportunities.

Q: How do you approach this week to keep the spirit of the team up and try to get them up to put in a four-quarter effort next week against West Perth?
Our job as coaches is to keep them engaged and upbeat, and we'll have a light night on Monday, recover a bit on Tuesday and build into Thursday. Our next three games are West Perth, Peel and East Perth, and I see them as three winnable games. We break the year up into four-week blocks and we saw this as a winnable game against Claremont and the same as the next three against teams that are around our mark. We just need to get over the line in one game, we need that reward for effort in one of these games and things might just click.

Q: Any idea why you're struggling at home, you've lost 10 of your last 11 now at Steel Blue Oval?
Don't tell me that! Maybe that's part of the younger guys who are coming through and they haven’t played season after season here to see how hard opposition teams find it to come here and win. Maybe they don’t quite feel like it's their home ground yet, I'm not sure really. I can't put my finger on it why that is, maybe it's the jumping castle.