BILL GETS GRILLED – BILL MONAGHAN ROUND 2 Q & A

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 4:29 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth's longest-serving coach Bill Monaghan discussed the Falcons' Polly Farmer Shield victory over East Perth and looks ahead to the challenges Subiaco pose this Saturday at HBF Arena.

QUESTION: It's never pretty in the opening game of the season but you would have liked a lot that you saw particularly in the second half?
ANSWER: It's really hard to judge where everyone's at as a competition early days and it's probably even harder when you have the first week off. I went and watched a lot of games and I was especially impressed by South Fremantle and then they lose this week, so it's just going to be nearly impossible to be confident with who is good or bad on any given week. It was a long eight days from Round 1 to our first game and 15 days from the last time we played because we really didn’t know where we're at. I'm really happy that the players have worked extremely hard to get themselves fit and work on some slight changes to our game style. They were rewarded but we're under no illusions that we're going to have to keep improving because right now East Perth aren't at the top of the tree. They might be at the end, but we have to make sure we keep looking forward and put this one in the bank, be happy with the win and move on quickly on a six-day break.

Q: Was a relief to finally start the season and then come away with the four points?
A: I told the players before the game that if they gave me everything they've got and played in the style we've been practicing I would walk away a happy man. I'm doubly happy because not only did they give me everything they've got, but we played in a manner that we won. It's been an interesting build-up and it's the first time in my nine years that we haven’t played Round 1 and I was really nervous because last year we started 1-4 and were putrid in the first couple of games. It took us a little while to get going so the players have been motivated by that, and motivated by an early exit but again we're just one game into a 20-game season. It was a significant day in the rivalry between East Perth and West Perth that we had the Polly Farmer Shield played for the first time. It's great that we are the first name on that and when I sit back some days and I reflect upon what's happened at the footy club in my time, a lot of people will be really happy that we won that for the first time.

Q: Luke Meadows was great last year off half-back, but in the midfield this week I thought he was the most influential player in the game?
A: There was probably a couple who rivalled him for that honour on our side and on East Perth's but I made a comment in the box with a minute to go that I think Luke had a significant impact and was in my mind the best player on the ground. That's not taking away from anyone else like Aaron Black, Tom Lamb or any other of the good players, but I think Luke vindicated why we wanted to play him through the midfield. He was strong, he was tough, he kicked the ball well and his ball handling was good. But he is a young player learning and this was his first week in the mids. He's probably brought a little bit more attention on himself and we'll see how that goes, and what means in coming weeks but I thought he was exceptionally good.

Q: You are looking for that next group of players to stand up and I thought Tyson Moulton and Corey Chalmers were two who did that?
A: Corey seemed to get better and better as the day went along. I thought his second half and some of second and third efforts, and pressure acts were really good. Tyson's an exceptionally talented kid. He marks the ball really well and he's probably a little taller and has longer arms than most people give him credit for. And he's a nice left-foot kick and he did a couple of wonderful things as well. Then a couple of our debutants Nathan Alexandre and Scott Nelson as young kids playing their first game did well. Twelve months ago Scott Nelson played the first round of colts footy so he's come a long way. Then Scott Simpson was our third debutant and he probably has a little bit of improving to do and he might be misjudging some balls a bit more than we'd like, but he was really strong in the contest and we were happy to have him out there.

Q: Simpson did struggle a bit early, but that's understandable given this is his first game in the state and it's a step up from what he's been playing the last couple of years. But he showed enough in the second half to suggest he was getting settled?
A: He's had a limited preparation too and the grounds are bigger here than the community footy he's basically played the last couple of years. He will be significantly improved by the first game and we are really bullish about what he brings to us, but we're also realistic to say that we don’t expect him to be the best player in the competition. Like all our players we expect him to keep improving and play the roles we need him to. 

Q: Seva battled hard in the ruck and gave you a good contest. But I'm sure you challenged Chris Keunen to make a statement in the reserves and he really did that?
A: Chris has had an interrupted pre-season. He had a broken toe and has only been back on the track for three or four weeks. I pretty much just said to him that at the moment Sev's got the position but that doesn’t mean you can't win it back, but you have to go and force your way into the side. I told him we're expect him to work hard and he did a lot of good things in the reserves even if he was rusty in a couple of areas. But it's going to be a good headache to have with him and Sev both playing good footy. I thought at times Hamilton did some good things in the ruck as well and Joe Morrow and Ben King both didn’t quite get up either. Max Alexander was really good in the reserves too and Jordan Mills looked good too so we're hoping that we have a bigger spread there and that competition for spaces to keep people honest and accountable is really important. 

Q: Would you expect King and Morrow to be right to play this week against Subiaco?
A: I would say that they will be both be available to play, the problem is will we make changes or not. Part of the flexibility thing as a team is that we need to look at Subi's list and obviously Liam Ryan, Delahunty and Wheeler pose genuine threats and that doesn’t mean they don’t have others. We will need to sit down and it will be horses for courses at selection. I watched Subi for three quarters on Saturday and Liam Ryan was doing a really good job of getting up the ground and running hard back to goals so whether that's Ben King, Scott Nelson or Kris Shannon, who knows who we'll start on him. Hopefully if our pressure is good enough through the middle we'll help out whoever is playing on any of their dangerous forward.