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Juddy to coach West Coast mids?

The fall from being bridesmaids at the Big Dance to barely hanging onto 6th position this year has me wondering, what has changed for this club in less than a year?

Technically they have a stronger side on paper this year than last, with the return of key position backs like Brown and McKenzie.

Sure, they traded Sinclair for Jetta to get more outside run and Redden was supposed to be an inside tackling beast.

Redden had a injury riddled pre season and Jetta is yet to show any real form.

Duggan is coming back from a knee injury but prior to that, was a rising midfield gun.
Sheppard got Player of the Finals Series 2015.
Josh Kennedy was coming off the back of winning the Coleman, Gaff was All Australian 2015 and Priddas started the first 10 rounds better than 2015.

Despite all of the upside, the Toast have fallen flat this year and I think it is the coaching department that should be held accountable.

The forward line coach is Justin Longmuire. Longmuire has held that position for 5 years, so surely by now he would have strategies to combat a lack of delivery inside 50m?

That’s the mids job you say Justin?

Well if the ball is not coming in, why not move Darling and Kennedy to high half forward positions and leave LeCras one on one in the square? Saints do it with Riewoldt on the wing, North do it with Petrie.

Both Darling and Kennedy have excellent ball skills for big men and would not be found out that far up the ground. For a defence desperate for marking options on the wing these two guys would be a welcome hit up target to occasionally shift momentum and offer release.

Speaking of defence what is going on back there?

The backline coach is Adrian Hickmont formerly Carlton & Geelong player and his ‘Defensive Coordinator’ is Daniel Pratt, like Simpson, an ex Kangaroo.

These two coaches have a plethora of skilled personnel in the Wet Toast defensive stocks. Schoefield, McKenzie, Brown, Hurn, Sheppard, McGovern, Wellingham, and now young Barrass and Nelson who both look to be impressive young players.

Butler is ready to retire for sure and given Barrass’s recent form McKenzie would be struggling to get back to his best to retain a spot. McGovern is the best intercept mark in the comp and the rest of that backline are pretty solid.

Maybe solid’s the operative word though.

The attacking runs off half back have been non existent this year. They have relied too heavily on piercing through opposition zones or predictably switching cross ground in the back half. These options only work if the foot skills are spot on, quick and the decisions are brave. Too often these kicks result in turnovers in dangerous areas of the ground and the ‘solid’ backs are too slow to react. It is often because of this that the mids are called upon to work a ‘team defence’ to help extract the ball and gain a better field position.

So what about the much maligned West Coast midfield?

The mids coach is Rawlings another ex Kangaroo. Last year he had the assistance of the stoppage coach who was Don Pyke, now the coach of the Crows – he has turned Adelaide’s future around this year, no doubt. Was Pyke the secret to the Eagles rising success last year?

The Hawthorn plan of cycling most of the Wet Toast team through the midfield came from Simpson for sure but many players have struggled to adapt to this tactic even after 2 years.

No. 1 ‘offender’ Mark LeCras.

Once the only forward option the Weagles had, has been found wanting in this new role. He looks slow, especially away from their home deck and too often makes poor decisions.

Masten is another that gets time in the guts, but guts is something that Masten needs to find, that and some heart. He is down at least 20% on last years’ output and seems to have lost the hunger to work back the other way.

Yeo is another that goes missing after the first half of games, especially away from Domain and that too could be a fitness issue.

Jamie Cripps enjoys skiing the slopes when the Eagles are 50 points in front but too many times he struggles to apply defensive pressure on his opponent.

The only player in the West Coast midfield that regularly roves front and centre at marking contests is Josh Hill, why is that? Why is it with 2 big power forwards and Nic Nat crashing packs, that there are too few mids in the right position to rove to advantage? Mr Rawlings, enquiring minds want to know…

I tend to agree with many of Wet Toasts’ detractors – in a town with only 2 teams, egos and self-image tend to come before the very club that gave them the opportunity.

The work rate of Priddas, Shuey and Gaff are undeniable however their very average kicking efficiency this year, could be a direct result of too much left to too few.

Dean Cox is the ruck & new stoppage coach and he has done well with Lycett & Naitanui (as he had done with Sinclair previously) and the midfield looks and works much better with Nic Nat in the side. He has big shoes to fill with Don Pyke leaving and is only in his 2nd year of coaching.

Simpson really needs to look at his coaching staff because this crop of players are young enough and last year had the hunger. He somehow needs to stop feeding these guys, starve them, give them an unquenchable thirst…Who better to give them that hunger than one who has suckled mothers’ milk from the illusive Premiership teat first hand..

If I was Trevor Nisbett I would be speaking to Chris Judd.

Juddy worked closely with Cox to plot the demise of the ‘Bloods’ premiership midfield in the 2006 Grand Final, those two working together again could be just what Simpson needs to ignite this misfiring midfield. With Juddy’s wife Rebeccas’ parents based in the West, the Judds would have first class respite to look after the forthcoming twins. By the end of the year I’m sure Juddy would be busting a hump to get out of the house, onto the footy field and maybe into the Western sun…

Off the fence
Billy P.

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