Reigning premiers setup for sustained success
Incoming West Perth football manager Ryan Mackenzie believes the reigning premiers are well set up for sustained success.
Mackenzie, who played 47 WAFL games for East Perth between 2005 and 2008, was recruited to the Falcons last December to replace Steve Trewhella, who has joined West Coast as development manager.
Mackenzie said coming into a club at the top of the table was a unique situation.
“That’s the real exciting thing for me, we know that everyone’s going to try and close the gap,” Mackenzie told Sports Breakfast.
“For us, it’s just trying to find minimal gains, and whatever I can do to help the players get any of those minimal gains and get better and keep at that top end of the ladder is the challenge I’ve got.
“We understand as a club what worked last year we still need to improve on, so that’s the exciting challenge of it all.”
Kane Bevan, Jasper Scaife, Griffith Julian, Luke Michael, and Daniel Gathercole all represented the club at the state underage carnival last year, but none were taken in the AFL draft.
Mackenzie said the young core would put on strong pressure for senior places.
“We’re probably in a really unique position this year … those guys are extremely hungry and keeping pressure on our senior players,” he said.
“We almost need to hold them back. We had our camp on the weekend and I was in at [the club] on Friday and there’s six or seven of them in the gym at seven or eight o’clock in the morning, and then we gave them Monday off after they had the whole weekend, and you get in there Monday afternoon and all the young kids are back in the gym doing their weight program again.
“The guys that played in the side last year, they see that as well, so they know that there’s pressure on. From a club perspective, the list is really healthy, there’s a lot of pressure on for spots really early, we haven’t really had a proper intraclub yet, yet there’s already a lot of pressure on for spots, so I think that’s going to hold the club in really good stead.”
The reigning premiers have benefitted from stability this offseason, with delisted West Coast forward Zac Langdon the major recruit.
Mackenzie said Anton Hamp (retired) was the club’s only loss from the Premiership side.
“Zac comes in and has been outstanding, his leadership and his experience and how he’s put his arms around the young guys in particular, we’ve been really, really pleased with,”
“A couple of guys that missed out are almost like new recruits, Mark Hamilton was injured, Rudy Riddoch, these guys are really hungry for success, they’ve probably seen what it’s like and didn’t get to taste it.
“We feel like the list at the moment is really healthy and in a really good spot.”
The WAFL season kicks off on Easter Weekend in early April, with the Falcons kicking off their season with a grand final rematch against Claremont on Good Friday.