Q & A with Bill Monaghan

Friday, November 13, 2020 - 4:45 PM

It’s hard to believe that East Fremantle’s pre-season kicks off in just 17 days! Entering his third season at the helm, Bill Monaghan answers some burning questions for the Sharks’ faithful.

Q Thoughts/Reflection on 2020

BM: I think everyone understands it was a difficult year in terms of planning and preparation. I thought our players did a good job through the off-season and then just on the eve of playing, we had the rug pulled out from under us. We probably didn’t come back from that as well as some of the other more experienced teams in the competition did, so in terms of preparation and getting ready for the season, it was quite difficult. We played some average footy at times, especially in round 1. But then there was a 4 or 5 week period in the middle of the season where our footy was very good without winning. One and seven is a poor result, but there is some glimmer of hope in the way we went about it, especially in the middle part of the season.

Q You’ve been active with recruitment, can you give us your thoughts on these players and the depth they bring to the squad?

BM: The demographic of our group isn’t quite right, we’ve parted ways with a number of players in the mid-20s who were experienced. Realistically, a lot of the games have gone to guys who are 19,20 and 21 so our recruiting has been really targeted. Dillon O’Reilly returns; although he is a little bit younger, he has had some good experience on an AFL list now and he’s an exceptionally talented player.

Corey Chalmers; we are rapt to get him on board, I’ve had an association with Corey from West Perth, he’s a talented forward-mid. When he plays in the midfield, he has the ability to find the footy and he’s dangerous in the front half with his goal sense and ability to crumb. He is 25, played 80 games, averages 20 possessions and a goal a game so we’re really excited to have Corey on board.

 One of the other areas we’ve tried to bolster is our running capacity and adding Josh Schoenfeld to the fold ( for those people who know anything about 2km time trials) he’s a 6-minute time trialer which is exceptional and puts him in the real top end of AFL talent. He’s been on the Gold Coast for 5 years, played 15 AFL games and will really add to our running power to complement our guys like Jarrad Jansen, Jordan Snadden and Tom Bennett through the midfield. We are really excited to add those three to our group.

We’re not really sure how the draft will pan-out for us but there is a good bunch of kids coming out of the Colts program to add to the depth that we’ve got with our other young East Fremantle products.

We’re still in the market for another couple and hopefully over the next few weeks we will be able to add some more midfield running power and quality to finish off our squad.

Q Off the back of the longest ever pre-season, how do you go about planning and preparing for pre-season this year?

BM: Fundamentally there are a lot of clubs who think we should delay the pre-season and we probably agree. At one stage we were planning to come back post-Christmas but just given the age and where our squad is, we’ve decided to come back in December. We’re just not ready yet to leave our players to their own devices, there’s still a bit of work to be done with our game plan and style. So, we will do a three-week block before Christmas, just touch base and see how they are going with their strength and running testing. We will do some prep work in terms of our ball skills and hit the ground running in the new year. Hopefully whether it’s the three recruits we’ve got now or if we can add a couple more, everyone will be on deck after Christmas. All the surgery and rehab will have taken place and we will have about a 12-week period running into round 1.

We’re really excited about training hard and working hard to improve in 2021.

Q. Where do you see that improvement coming from in 2021?

BM: We’re trying to add some running power through the middle. I think we’ve got a pretty decent midfield but there is not what you would call elite runners in there. If you look around the competition like a Kane Mitchell at Claremont or an Aaron Black from West Perth, we don’t really have that type of runner in our group. We think if we can add to the strength of our midfield group, our backline is coming along quite nicely, then it’s a work in progress in the front half - but we have to get the ball there a little bit more as well.

If we can control more of the game through the middle of the ground and give our forwards more of an opportunity, with the natural growth we’ve got in our squad – I think we were the second youngest group last year, we’ve managed to get 15-20 games into a number of those players - there should be some natural improvement in the squad. Then if we can get a little bit more top end talent to go with our talented players we’ve already got, we can hopefully rise up the table pretty quickly.