Demons steer away from debutants

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

Melbourne’s shift to a more seasoned playing list under the coaching of Paul Roos has continued with the signing of former Port Adelaide midfielder Ben Newton.

And as the Demons head towards the national draft with just three “live” picks after already acquiring five new players through trading, delisted free agency and the father-son rule, Roos says Melbourne will continue to eye off AFL-experienced talent.

Melbourne has the prized selections 2 and 3 as well as pick 40 in the national draft on 27 November. But Roos, who returned to the club on Wednesday to take charge of the start of pre-season, said the club was learning not to pin too much faith on the capacity of young draftees to make an immediate difference.

Roos used the example of departed Demon Sam Blease, now with Geelong, to highlight those expectations, as well as the importance of the club’s junior development, which he said was now being stabilised through further appointments to the coaching staff.

“For too long those players been seen as saviours,” Roos said. “Blease is a really good example of a young kid who’s come to this footy club and he’s had five or six different coaches.

“We’ve got to correct that and we’ve done that with Simon Goodwin coming in [to eventually replace Roos] so our players know they’ve got a coach for five years, and we’ve got Brendan McCartney coming in as one of the best development coaches.

“The pressure can’t be on young kids coming into footy clubs. They’ve got to come in and develop. I think Melbourne players have been short-changed here and we’re changing that, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Newton’s signing brings to nine the number of senior-experienced players recruited by Melbourne since Roos’ arrival as coach for 2014.

Last off-season, the Demons picked up Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross, Dom Tyson, Viv Michie and Aidan Riley from other AFL clubs. This time around the swag includes Newton, former Collingwood premiership player Heritier Lumumba, former Carlton goalsneak Jeff Garlett and young former Giant Sam Frost.

“We’re trying to get a mix of younger guys, but not too young,” Roos said. “We’ve got guys like Ben coming in, who’s 22 and come from a good club, and with Heritier and Jeff and Sam gives us good youth and experience. It’s really important if we’re going to get better as a footy club.”

Roos said that increasing Melbourne’s leg speed had been a recruiting priority and that Lumumba and Garlett in particular were the perfect pick-ups in that regard.

“Before we even knew we were a chance to get him [Lumumba] the prototype we were really looking for was speed, we really wanted to add speed to our list off half-back and through midfield and also in our forward line,” he said.

Roos said Melbourne believed it had a bargain in former Blue Garlett, who adds a different size and goalkicking potency to a forward line which in 2014 finished a distant last for points scored with a miserable average of only 60.7 points per game, and whose leading goalkicker (Chris Dawes) finished with just 20 goals.

“It’s not till you actually sit down and go: ‘this guy’s available’ and look at his record that you realise he’s kicked 40-something goals and 30-odd in three of his last four years,” he said of Garlett.

“We needed speed, we needed an extra half-back in Lumumba, and we needed speed and goalkicking forward of centre, and I also think Jeff can go in the midfield as well, so to get those two players is massive. I know our players are super-excited to have them on board.”

Roos said Melbourne would focus on a better balance between defence and attack in 2015, having reduced its average points against by about six goals per game last season.

“We probably started to do that over the last eight weeks of the season, and in our last game we kicked 14 goals, but North Melbourne kicked 19, so it’s just a balance,” he said. “We need to get better at moving the ball quicker and scoring. They’ll have a better understanding of the defensive stuff now, but teams need to score as well to put pressure on the opposition.”

Melbourne’s first-to-fourth-year players, including the much-vaunted and still-to-debut key forward Jesse Hogan, had their first run of the pre-season under Roos on Wednesday morning. The rest of the playing list will return on November 17.

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