U19’s Division One; Season so far

Head Coach: Tim Spehr

Please provide a brief summary of how your team has been performing in the first half of the season

Really promising first half of the season. Had 37 players through the Colts Div 1 side but have maintained great continuity in game style and output. Only two losses to date, both against high quality opposition who we took to task and held accountable. Rounding into premiership contention with our focus firmly on improving our squad cohesion and on-field communication skills.

What are some key highlights of your teams season so far?

Belief in the quality of our talent solidified in the fourth quarter of our game against Manly. Facing a fellow finals hopeful, we had lost control of a strong start, getting sloppy defensively and allowing the opposition to move the ball easily through the corridor and deep inside 50. The intensity and desperation the boys showed over the final 18 minutes was more indicative of the group’s pride and capability, kicking six goals to none in a period unmatched by any other team in the competition this season. It underlined what we already knew; that our best is exceptional but the consistency and approach required to get there can’t be taken for granted.

What has been the highlight for you as coach of your team so far this season?

The opportunity a number of players have earned through hard work, attention to detail on their personal development, and taking a professional approach to their own and the team’s success. I believe the success of a squad is predicated on the ability to produce better talent than what you started with and the progress made on the margins has consolidated our depth and made us perform more consistently and reliably.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for your team going into the second half of the season?

Capitalising on all the good work we’ve done to this point and consolidating it into full game efforts. If we can find greater in-game consistency and improve our on-field problem solving abilities, there’s no doubt we can be the best team in the competition.

What does success look like for your team?

Moments where our ball movement looks aggressive and cohesive, where players show discipline to structures and are creative and hard-working within them, and where the boys support each other with their voice and their run. I love seeing individuals make intelligent choices in their defensive method or their offensive decision-making. Smarter timing on off-ball movement or more assertive, loud communication will always trump a player kicking 6 goals or having 30 touches. The in-between moments are what will win us a premiership.

What are some key games coming up in the second half of the season for your team?

Three major games – UNSW, North Shore and Manly. They set the benchmark and our performances against them are the barometer for how close we are to our best. All our learning is set by how good those squads are and our desire to be more astute, intense and aggressive than them.

Who are some key players within your team to keep an eye on, and why?

We have so many across the board who can turn a game. Angus Jones is one to watch – he has only just come back from six months off with injury but has already kicked 10 goals in two games, including eight on debut against Camden. Will Gibbs and Zak Martin are two of the four leading goalkickers in the competition with 23 and 15 respectively, both classy, intelligent forwards who can impact a game off their own bat. Jack Griffith-Saunders is the league’s best ruckman and sets the tone for our midfield with his tapwork and elite speed and endurance. Dylan Howard, Reuben Sachs and James Rene have been outstanding defensively with their ball use and intercept marking, while Sam McCready, Jack Lyons and Patty Braithwaite have been the high-water mark for our midfield with their defensive running and excellent contest work. Excited to get some players back from long-term injuries in the back end of the season, among them Lucas Newman, Caiden Cleary, Alex del Popolo and Max Hochuli. With only three games played between them, they’ll be luxury talent adds to an already impressive squad.