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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Lions poised for quick turnaround in 2023: Wardman

Subiaco coach Beau Wardman believes growth from within will carry the club forward in the 2023 season.

The Lions missed the league finals last year with a 7-11 record but had more success in the other grades, with the reserves team winning the premiership and the colts side making the preliminary final.

Wardman said he expected young players such as Koltyn Tholstrup, Rory Murison, Zac Sadowski to make an impact in the senior side this year.

“In every year since 2017, the club’s won a premiership in one grade or another, that speaks volumes to our whole-of-club model and the program to try and develop the kids who are coming through,” Wardman told Sports Breakfast.

“I think we debuted 18 players in our league side last year, so there’s certainly opportunity for guys and we really encourage them to push each other and work hard.

“I think (the reserves team) just having the success that they did at the back end of last year, coming from fourth to win the flag, playing in finals games are akin to playing a league game, so that experience will be great for those young kids coming through.”

The Lions have a reputation as strong recruiters but have been quieter in the player market this offseason, with former Subiaco juniors Kyron Hayden (North Melbourne) and Taj Schofield (Port Adelaide) the feature signings.

Wardman said he was excited to see what Hayden could do in a midfield role.

“He’s a big lump of a lad, some of the tackles in our match practice and small sided games, you feel for some of his teammates, but there’s no holding back,” he said.

“He probably had a tough time at AFL level, rupturing an achilles and a couple of hamstring injuries, we probably didn't see the best of him, and hopefully if he can put some really good form together at WAFL level, no doubt he’s more than capable of that, he may get another opportunity at the AFL level over another year or two.

“Taj, similarly, unfortunate probably in a really strong Port Adelaide team over the past couple of years not to get that opportunity, but I think the way he has approached his preseason is super professional. He knows what he needs to do to get back to that level and we’ve been working really closely with him on that, and he’ll be able to provide that really strong option through the midfield and forward.

Retired AFLW star Kara Antonio has joined the club, with Fremantle’s inaugural captain taking the role of forwards coach.

Wardman said Antonio would be an important asset.

“She spent a little bit of time with us last season assisting Nigel Hamilton with the midfield and wanted to really grow her coaching, she was able to coach the forwards at Fremantle and saw the opportunity to get into a completely different program with the men’s side of it, recognised the growth she could get from our club in that space, so we’re really fortunate to have someone of her calibre and experience,” he said.

“She’s a schoolteacher, she’s a level three coach that comes in with a wealth of experience and great game knowledge, and the rapport that she’s been able to build with the playing group so far has been exceptional.”

The WAFL season kicks off on Easter Weekend in April, with Subiaco opening their campaign against Perth at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday the 8th.

IMAGE: The West Australian.


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