What are your initial thoughts?
“It was a slog. Pretty open game I would have thought it would have looked like. I lot of width for both teams. They’re going to be a very good side – they probably are a good side really – they’re not as young as you think they are. They’re ready to go, so coming over here, losing one of their best players in the first five minutes and they didn’t go away at all. It probably took some really good performances from our mature players, but I also thought some of our younger guys really stood up today as well in a game that felt a little bit different to normal. I think we had 33 tackles to 39 … so dealing with that in oppressive heat was interesting. Probably our maturity got us over the line in the end.”
What specifically changed in that last quarter – you kicked five unanswered goals?
“I think the players just went to another level, our guys. They’ve been around a bit longer than some of the Gold Coast boys. Elevated in the contest, got good field (position), all the basic stuff. We didn’t change anything strategically. Spoke a lot about how to try and stop the flow of the ball movement from our front end to their front end, it was quite hard to stop. In the last 15 minutes we probably had a bit of field position and we won the important contest.”
Do you feel if you move the ball quicker you’re better with your key forwards kicking nine of 12 goals?
“Not necessarily. Every time we went quick we got rebounded on, we couldn’t lock it in there. The game is going to work itself out no doubt, it always does, there’s always different things to work out in the first four or five rounds. Today was a unique-looking game. The quicker we went the more we got rebounded on, the slower we went it became a bit of a turnover (game). It was just a weird game but we worked through it and eventually we got on top.”
How did you view Oscar (Allen’s) performance and particularly the fourth quarter some of the contest work?
“Hopefully he is going to be a very good player for us for a long period of time. We’ve been using him a little bit down back throughout the quarters just to give our talls a break, because we’re pretty tall in our front half so it gives our smalls a look too. He’s got some great leaders around him to really help him grow and take the heat off him and that transition will continue this year.”
How did you view the midfield without (Luke) Shuey and (Elliot) Yeo?
“They’re two our best players. With those two out I thought they stood up pretty well. In years gone by without Shuey and Yeo we’d be in a fair bit of trouble in our midfield. Dom (Sheed) stood up, Tim (Kelly) stood up again, ‘Gaffy’ (Andrew Gaff), ‘Reddo’ (Jack Redden), (Liam) Duggan is now a bonafide midfielder, so we probably held our own and Nic (Naitanui) had some moments than only Nic can do. I thought they all played their part.”
The two-ruck combo with Nic and (Nathan) Vardy, how did you view that?
“It’s really difficult to not do that for us. The lower the rotations, the longer the game time, power athletes are going to get exposed. Resting forward doesn’t really work for everyone, so we’ve got to find a way to get Nic involved in the game and that at the moment means an extra ruck.”
As an opposition coach, the (Matt) Rowell (injury) situation?
“I’m not sure what he’s done - hopefully it’s not too long-term. I think everyone admires him for what he does off the field as well as on, so hopefully it’s a speedy recovery.”
Jeremy McGovern’s knee injury?
“Just knee on knee I think. I don’t think we had any real issues from an injury point-of-view. I thought he led really well today as captain. Sometimes when you captain the side you feel like you’ve got to do that extra bit, but he just played his normal game and he’s developed into a really, really solid leader for us. He’s a standalone vice-captain and he stood up today, along with all our backs.”
(Tom) Barrass and (Ben) King, that seemed like one hell of a battle?
“King’s going to be not a bad player, I think we all know that, so I think he kicked three (goals) but I think Tom has been dealing with a lot of adversity the last couple of weeks and his football has gone to another level. The boys have been around him. The club is his sanctuary and he’s not letting us down.”