Gordon 2016 Season Preview – With Geoff Townsend
by Paul Cook –
Last Year: 9th (42pts)
Ins: Tom Carruthers (Subbies); Matt Hayter (returning from injury); Johnny Latta (Scotland); Xavier McCoy; Jack McGuire; Roni Scarano (returning from injury)
Outs: Luke Rissman
Coaching Team: Head coach – Geoff Townsend / Assistant – Mark Philp / Backs – Tim Wallace
Geoff Townsend: “I think, particularly with the NRC competition now, there’s going to be less money in club footy so, teams that keep going put there and buying players and buying players – it’s short-term gain for long-term pain. Gordon have been through that and it’s taken probably the best part of a decade to get back to anywhere close to where we want to be but we’ve turned the corner. We got a lot of engagement back in 2014 with the juniors at our schools in the area; in 2015 we solidified that and in 2016 we’ll expand on that. Young kids now want to come and play for Gordon again, which is great and all the good things that we’ve done over the last few years, we should now start to see the benefits across the club.
“With potentially 30 players coming up from colts, the barren years of 3rd and 4th grade will suddenly start to change and we won’t have myself, Tim Wallace or others putting their boots on to fill out 4th grade. At the moment, we’ve probably got six teams, and you need that at least. But we’ve got to find a way to keep player no.25 in 4th grade as happy as player no.1 in 1st grade and ensure that we keep that depth throughout the club. For the first time in my three years at the club, we’re going to have to make some hard decisions in a lot of positions. That’s certainly something we didn’t have in 2014 and maybe only in a few positions last year.”
Key Areas of Improvement:
“We’re a mile ahead of where we’ve been previously because we had the continuity with the playing group, it’s pretty much the same players going around again. What we did in 2014 and 2015, we’ve stepped it up two or three notches for 2016 with what we were able to do. Everyone is familiar with what we are trying to do and we were able to get through a lot more in both attack and defence and set-piece-wise so we’re confident that we’ve got a pretty good program in place.
“For the first time in five or six years at Gordon, we’ve actually got a crew of colts coming into grade, which will make a hell of a difference. Quite a few of those guys won’t start in 1st grade but I’m sure a lot of them will feature across the year, and amongst that group are some guys who are absolute lightning so, that can change the way we play the game this year. We’ve now got out and out speed across our three top grades, which we probably lacked a little bit last year.”
“Sean Dillon and James Rough have been involved with the NSW U20’s program and while they’re both colts eligible, they will feature in grade. Out wide we’ve got Ben Butler, Kurtis Quinn, Sam Mete and Andrew Bligh and the four of them are as quick as anyone in the game.”
What are your hopes/expectations for the Highlanders in 2016?
“Year One here was to get established; Year Two was to be on the fringes – which we were a game or two away from – and this year? We’ll go as well as we want to go as a group and I’m not closing the book on anything. We’ve got a good crew and we could do anything, it’s really up to how we gel together as to where we finish but I’m not putting a number on it. However, if we don’t make the finals it will be a disappointing year.”