With the 2013 WAFL season only 38 days away, East Fremantle’s League Coach Steve Malaxos is working feverishly on preparing his side for another grueling campaign.
2013 will mark Malaxos’ third year as East Fremantle’s League Coach and despite the Grand Final loss last September, he doesn’t feel that this has any added pressure to succeed this season.
“Personally I don’t feel as if I have more drive then previously,
“But I think that some of the footy staff and some of the players think, getting relatively close (to a premiership), that winning a premiership is achievable,
“That’s what we took out of the Grand final rather than disappointment.” he said.
When summing up season 2012 Malaxos said it could be defined by one word, “improved”.
Despite Malaxos considering the East Fremantle squad of a quality to win a Premiership, it’s clear that Malaxos wants the Sharks to improve again in the new season.
“In some respects I think we were actually good enough to win, we just did a few things wrong on Grand Final Day,” he said.
“It’s probably making sure that we don’t do some little fundamental things wrong when the game is on the line, I felt that’s what we did on Grand Final day.”
Malaxos has already improved the playing squad with the additions of Brett Peake and James Saville, while the addition of Paul Harding as ruck coach will aid East Fremantle’s fledgling ruck stocks.
“We tried to secure another ruck-man and we went pretty hard at a couple of guys and did the best we could… but that didn’t come through,
“So Cam Symonds has got a tremendous opportunity and then Byron Prendergast from Colts we’re trying to develop him,
“Hopefully Paul can come back and really help these young guys improve. ” he said.
The reliance on young players to take the mantle comes after the departure of the club’s number one ruck-man, Russell Gabriel, a player Malaxos didn’t want to lose.
“It’s disappointing, from my perspective, to lose Russell Gabriel,
“I believe he was a good ruck-man and he played most of last year in his non-preferred position because we had Griffo (Jonathon Griffin) a bit more than I anticipated,
“But when he played in the ruck he was quite good,” he said
Malaxos said he may swing utility Rob Young into the ruck, but the 27 year old looks to have cemented himself as a forward after his dominant display in the Grand Final.
“The plan is he’ll play a lot of game time up forward but we’ll still use him in the ruck if required,” he said.
“But he’s been programmed to play as a key forward.”
The ruck isn’t the only position that Malaxos and his coaching staff will have to stress over as the addition of Saville and Peake means there will be more competition for a spot in the final 22, especially in defense.
Peake played off the half back for Sandringham in VFL while Malaxos is keen to use Saville’s left foot as a new avenue out of defense.
“We have a pretty strong backline so we’ve said to James you’ve got to force your way in on performance,
“But the things that have stood out is that he’s a really good team man, a real good club man and being a good ball user with the left foot is an added advantage,
“If he was to play in the back line that helps to change our method of brining the ball out of defense,” he said.
Saville may also be thrown up forward during the preseason while Peake can expect some time in the midfield.
Malaxos said: “Last year with Sandringham he (Peake) played on the Half back flank, so we haven’t really settled on the role but he might play half back but he can certainly play in the midfield and use his run,
“He’ll probably fluctuate between midfield, wing and halfback.”
Either way East Fremantle’s depth is quite extraordinary. Malaxos has been impressed by some Reserves players so far this preseason with a few pushing for senior selection.
“Tom Hooker’s one, Godfrey Curly a young boy from Geraldton, Tyler Chalwell’s has also been training well,” he said.
“There’s a few boys from the Colts that have been training well; Mathew Jupp, Andrew Stokes, Jordan Dorotich and Cam Fannon.”
- East Fremantle’s first WAFL Premiership match is at East Fremantle Oval on Saturday, March 16 Vs. Swan Districts.
By Ryan Miller - Follow him on Twitter @Ryan_DMiller.