What has the pre-season focus for November been, and how is training going considering we’re edging nearer to the 2022 season?

Pre-season is going really well, we’ve got a lot of numbers on the track compared to this time last year, which means we’ve been able to put a little bit more work into the girls, knowing that we’ve got good numbers. The girls have come back in fantastic shape and that’s reflective in our testing. Over half of the group recorded personal best times in their fitness testing results. We’re really focussing this month on the education side of things, on our game plan, we’re taking it from the class to the grass, that’s the plan.

As well as an increase in fitness levels and numbers on the track, who have you noticed has been putting in a considerable effort across pre-season? Who has been impressing?

I think we’ve had a number of girls who have been impressing on the track. A couple of our young draftees, but also players like our captain ‘Swanny’ (Emma Swanson), she’s come back and she’s looking fitter than ever. It’s really good from that point of view as a leader. Also, Parris Laurie, the same. I also think a couple of our younger players like Bella Lewis, she’s just come out of rehab and has come back fit and really training well at the moment. And then a couple of our older girls who play up forward, Mel Caulfield and Ashlee Atkins, showing their experience and leadership, along with Dana Hooker.

And the girls’ bond off-field, do you hope this will transfer across during the season and on game day?

Yeah absolutely, that’s one of the main things that I’ve noticed coming into the role, is how tight-knit they are. They obviously love coming to the club and doing what they need to do as a footballer, but also love spending time together as a group outside of footy. So, we think we’ve got a really good mix of younger and older players who love being in each other’s company, so that can only go well for the future of our girls.

As a coach, what have you been focussing on as we come into 2022? You’ve previously spoken about furthering the team’s fitness and making a four-quarter effort.

That’s one of our main goals this year, we’ve found that we were pretty competitive against some very good sides, and Brisbane being one of those who went on to win the premiership. We really took it to them in the first half, and in the second half we faded right out of that game and then really got beaten quite easily. So, for short periods it looked really good, but one of the main things for next year would be to stay in those games for a lot longer, and then get over the line at the end as well.

What is your end goal for the 2022 season?

We’re really hoping to continue to embed our game plan, it won’t change a great deal from what it’s been from the last few years. I think we play to our strengths, we have a game plan that suits that, so really embedding that game plan and looking for that continual improvement and then collectively as a team. We’re under no illusions about where we’re at and where we want to go, but there’s a lot of hard work done in the meantime to take us to where the team and the club want to be.

And how are the draftees settling in now? How has it been watching them develop their craft across the few months they’ve been at the club?

They’ve all come in, they’re bubbly, we’ve obviously got girls like Courtney Rowely and Beth Schilling who are still doing exams from school, so they’re juggling school with their training. We’re pretty lenient with them because it’s a pretty important time in their lives to get that right, and then we’ve got Charlie Thomas, who has come in and shown us she’s going to be a really good player for us moving forward. Sarah Lakay, our young up-and-coming ruck, has been working really hard with Ryan Turnbull, Parris Laurie and Andrea Gilmore, really learning her craft. Em Bennett is coming with a lot of enthusiasm. They’re all sponges. They want to learn and they’ve added a great deal to our group so far.