Colts Corner with Beau Wardman | RD15

We catch up with our colts coach Beau Wardman after another win against West Perth at HBF Arena. A fast start allowed the Lions to jump out of the blocks and create breathing space in the top 5. 

Q: Pretty hard to imagine a better start coming off a bye week, you outscored West Perth 4.4. to nil in the opening quarter, was there anything in particular that pleased you most about the fast start?
We have had a couple of big weeks on the training track focusing on our ball winning and body work. The break gave us good opportunity to review the season to date as a group, but also one-on-one with players. The coaching group were impressed with our ability to transfer our training into a game situation. The coaches have worked hard in review to simplify the expectations for players and clearly they were able to execute early in tough conditions.  
Q: West Perth have shown a knack this season of producing comeback wins and producing their best form in the second half, was this something you and your coaching staff were mindful of and made your team aware of at half and three quarter time?
It was recognised. West Perth, like us, have made strong improvements this year. What we were mindful of was being able to execute our game plans for longer periods. We went away a little bit in the final term – something we can review and continue to improve. It was always going to be tough to sustain the high intensity and work rate given the conditions.  
Q: You survived most of the worst weather for the day, although notably your second half was not as impactful on the scoreboard, do you put this down to the conditions, or is it another example of still needing to find the all-round four quarter consistency you are after?
The conditions did have a bit of an impact, however I thought we withstood some strong pressure from West Perth. They really came at us in the third term, I think they had 14-Inside 50s. Our defence stood up really well and we were able to counter with a couple of goals ourselves. The likes of Fullgrabe, Connolly and Stainsby have been strong for us in defence for most of the year and Madoc Plane moved down there this week and performed strongly.    
Q: Nic Baroni really seemed to lead the way on Saturday, 21 possessions and 8 tackles; he also seemed to have some strong impact on the game early on as you took control of the contest?
Nic has had a really tough year with injury impacting on his ability to consistently get out on the park but has been a consistent contributor in the games he has played. What was most pleasing was how the team played, particularly early on. We have given a few players new roles, Dwayne Smith was outstanding through the midfield with is pace and cleanness at ground level, whilst David Purser came back into the team after stringing a few weeks together on the training track – he was rewarded and performed with great effort.
Q: In a low scoring affair Christian Martin and Che Wyatt combined for five goals and both seemed to have an important impact on the contest?
Che was great early on up forward. He kicked the first goal from outside 50 with a tough wind shows the class he has. When he comes at the contest he is hard to stop. Christian is starting to string together some strong consistent form which is great. It is important our big guys continue to provide a contest, that enables our smalls at ground level to do what they do best. Jake Halligan had a few shots on goal and Luke Foley was able to snap from a clean front and centre in a changed role up forward.
Q: We have spoken a few times about the defensive efforts of the team, another good one holding West Perth to just four goals, is there any individual that is really standing out as the marshall of your defensive group? 
Since November the players have been told they need to develop an appetite to compete, to become physical and to play team defence. This has been backed up with our training and is a pillar of how we want to play. We have consistency in this area from our leaders in Liam Connolly, Max Dennis, Liam Hickmott and Madoc Plane – they set the tone. Tommy Edwards-Baldwin has a real crack every week – he is relentless inside for us. On the outside Wil Hickmott and Luke Foley have been great with their defence positioning and using their fitness to cover.    
Q: The WA State 18s wrapped up their representative season on Friday with an impressive win; Brayden Ainsworth, Ben Miller and Kyron Hayden all had solid campaigns, you must have been proud to see these boys perform at the higher level?
It’s great for the club and our investment in the development programs that these boys were able to perform so well. They all have great and varied backgrounds which makes their stories so special. Brayden, leaving home in Esperance to really give footy a crack at the next level, he embraced the senior program over pre-season. Ben Miller, who travelled every week from Kalgoorlie to play colts games in the first six-weeks, the 7 hour train ride on a Friday isn’t easy. We also owe a lot of credit to Gemma Lockyer (Ben’s cousin, and colts coaches assistant) who has looked after Ben whilst in Perth. Then Kyron, our vice-captain, who missed the entire 2016 season with injury and returned to full training at the start of February. For him to achieve what he has to this point in the year and get the opportunity at 18s level is testament to the character of the kid, and the support from his coaches and conditioning staff.  
Q: Looking ahead do you see any of these boys coming straight back into the team, and indeed do you see any other changes for next week’s game against Perth?
We will look at where they fit in, whether there is some senior football opportunity for them or load management over the next couple of weeks – they have had a big program. It will be a player first approach.
For the game against Perth we will get Jamie Crew and Fraser Softley in from Kalgoorlie, it will be a good opportunity for these boys so there will be a few changes which is great, we have spoken about a healthy competitiveness within the squad for positions.
Q: Quite a strange fixture with Perth next week, you beat them quite convincingly less than a month ago, important to keep your momentum going and ensure you have another strong performance over Perth?
Perth will be greatly improved from last time. They will get a number of payers back from the 18s and also the availability of their PSA kids. We will focus on how we want to play – individuals improving their focus areas and the team stringing together a consistent performance over four quarters. Every game is a challenge and the tightness of the competition means no game can be taken lightly.  
Q: It will be a significant day for the Colts next week with the side really embracing NAIDOC Week and wearing NAIDOC jumpers for the first time, you must be proud to be a part of this wonderful initiative?
It will be really special week for our group both to celebrate NAIDOC week and to educate our players and staff on the importance of it. The symbolism of wearing the NAIDOC jumpers will be a great initiative. Our vice-captain, Kyron Hayden will lead the group and senior player Che Wyatt will address the group during the week, whilst former player Des Hedland will be a guest on game day to speak to the players. It will be a great week and hopefully capped off with a strong on-field performance.   

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