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Head Coach – 5 things we learnt from Norths Trial


westharbour-v-norths-trial-2-2018_1020The Players running Fitness is very good

The players that have consistently attended pre-season are very running fit. We term this being Pirate Fit. The pre-season was designed to be both physically and mentally brutal to prepare the players for a very hard season schedule and the early signs are very positive. With the introduction of GPS units, every step the players take is under scrutiny, analysis and planning.

The players generally run approximately 30km of quality sprint efforts a week. The trial period has been designed to allow the players to develop their collision time and contact fitness.

To put the level of the players fitness into perspective during the Top Squad trial the players were not allowed to kick the ball in any way and therefore had to run everything and expend a lot of energy working the ball up-field from deep within their own half against an opposition who has played in the last two Shute Shield Finals.

westharbour-v-norths-trial-2-2018_7926The New Laws Variations will simplify elements of the Game

There a number of new law variations that are so subtle you may not have noticed them. The key law variations that are making the game more fluid in general terms


  1. All front rowers can strike for the ball.
  2. Scrum Half can stand and feed the ball on inside of the Loose-head prop


  1. Every defensive player must now come through the gate to contest the ball. The tackler cannot get to his feet and play the ball without coming through the gate
  2. Defensive player cannot kick the ball in the ruck they must rake it back


  1. Stringent penalties on any high tackles and contact with the head or neck. A new term you may hear is seat-belt tackle where the arm of the tackling player strikes shoulder and neck. This is a penalty.

These key ones are making a big difference to the flow of the game and are positive changes that were evident throughout Saturday’s trial games. To put this into perspective it was a first trial, which are usually dour affairs, yet on Saturday the ball was in play for long periods of time.

westharbour-v-norths-trial-2-2018_1038The New Players Look the Goods

Whilst the club retained many of the strong playing base across the grades a number of new players have joined the Pirate Family.

All the new players are contributing to the club on many levels on and off the field, which is a positive indicator of the player and environment and culture at the club.

The new players are contributing strongly to the performance culture and are always striving to develop their individual and clubs game.

Glimpses on Saturday of their skills and how they will develop into the club were on show and it augers well for a stronger squad system throughout the club.

Performance Anxiety is Buildingwestharbour-v-norths-trial-2-2018_0614

The club as a whole has awoken and are very much working towards building towards a strong performance on and off the field. Whilst we have analysed the 2018 season draw and all understand how hard the season will be, there is an underlying drive to be better in 2018 and drive standards and performance. From a club organisational viewpoint the trial period is the hardest with much to be done, people learning their roles, systems implemented on and off the field, bu
t most importantly everyone has their eye on club performance and culture ultimately working towards a positive outcome for the season.

Saturday amongst the supporters, managers, coaches and players there was a real edginess and anxiety around performance requirements on and off the field.
This type of anxiety is actually good and means as a club we are genuinely building something and expect greater standards and improvement of the club and ourselves. All good organisations have this type of friction and anxiety and it was evident on Saturday on many levels. It’s a great sign!

westharbour-v-norths-trial-2-2018_0707They are called Trials for a reason

It is hard to get an indication of form in trials regardless of who wins or loses. The bottom line is the first trial created more questions than answers in terms of the amount of work and development required.

Trials are not about form – they are fundamentally about organisation and working combinations together to develop a holistic culture.

On-field frameworks, systems, game management and style of play install are only 25% completed across the club, given a big focus has been on strength and conditioning.

Off field there are numerous new initiatives in 2018 to take the club forward and many of them were trialed on Saturday and like on-field a lot of valuable development criteria was noted.

westharbour-v-norths-trial-2-2018_1632What is evident off field is that home games will be a real event for families and supporters.

What is evident on field is that the players have a strong understanding how we want to play to our strengths and are committed to developing that game.

Some of you may wonder why we cleared the bench for the last 15 minutes of the 1st grade trial. It was both a test and a message. 64 players were called on to play for 1st grade last season, so the message was, be ready at anytime, and that those players that were keen (it didn’t matter what grade) were sent on and stepped up. This is yet another good sign.