Shepherd keen to coach Peel in 2021
Dual Peel Thunder premiership coach Cam Shepherd is likely to coach on in 2021, saying he sees a bright future for the club despite staring down the barrel of a winless season in 2020.
Speaking to Sports Drive on Tuesday, the longest serving coach of the Thunder was keen to stay on board with the club next season.
“I love coaching. I think this year has been a great situation from a management point of view to go through the challenges we’ve had,” Shepherd said.
“I think Peel has a wonderful future. I’d love to be a part of it, it’s a matter of now sitting down over the next month or so working out what it looks like and when we do we will come to a solution I’m sure.”
Peel was dealt a blow before the truncated season had even begun when the AFL ruled that no AFL listed players would be able to play in state based leagues, leaving the Mandurah based club without any Fremantle players at their disposal.
It’s the first time since 2013 that the Thunder haven’t had the benefit of the alignment with the Dockers, but Shepherd said it had spawned opportunities for younger players.
“We’ve had six young men from our Colts Grand Final team last year that have come in and although at times inconsistent have shown that in time they will be quality footballers for Peel Thunder.
“We’ve also enjoyed the competition of undersized ruckmen in McGowan and Cullen and at times taking on some big boys and putting on really strong efforts.
“The leadership of Hancock, Howlett, Bell, Ballantyne and others has shone through. We’ve been remarkably competitive without access to our Fremantle players.”
Despite heading to their final game of the season at 0-7 against East Perth, Shepherd said the morale in the group remained high.
“I reckon our group is as positive as it has been for a couple of years. The morale and the enjoyment of watching each other perform and the want to help each other has been great.
“We play against East Perth; we try to win every game like all clubs do. We know we have got a challenge; they are a strong physical side who were five goals up against South Fremantle last week.
“We know they are going to be a formidable challenge, but I reckon we will have a really good crack at it.”
Shepherd, who played for Perth and Claremont before becoming coach of the Thunder in 2013 said there was still uncertainty around what the club will look like next year, particularly whether the alignment with Fremantle would proceed.
“I think we need to understand the AFL environment is ever changing. Our relationship with Fremantle is really strong, we’re trying to work out what that might look like without having a crystal ball to understand whether Fremantle will be allowed to give any players back to Peel due to the health situation caused by coronavirus.
“We’ve got to plan for no Fremantle players and then hope that we get some. It’s not a normal situation for Peel Thunder at the moment.”
“We’re a pretty tight group trying to work out from a management point of view with John Ditchburn (Thunder CEO) the board and our football department how we best get ourselves up to be competitive again.”
Peel Thunder’s final match of the season against East Perth is on Saturday at Leederville Oval, bouncedown at 2:30 PM.
IMAGE: The West Australian.