DON’T tell East Point that finishing third this year is a good result. The Red Lion Kangaroos don’t want to hear it.
While East Point has risen from seventh last year and has suffered injuries to three of the club’s top six ahead of Saturday’s Ballarat Football League preliminary final, coach Dan Jordan is tired of the talk that his team has already “done well”.
Redan will enter Saturday’s match as short odds favourite to progress to the Red Onion BFL grand final but Jordan is adamant his team’s race is not run.
“I and the playing group are pretty sick of hearing East Point has done really well to get to this stage,” Jordan said at yesterday’s official press conference. “We’re here and we’re having a crack at a grand final.
“The amount of people who come up to me and say that we’ve done really well. Well, our playing group is focussed on getting in the grand final and will throw everything at it.
“Yes, we’ve had some injuries that have hurt us in the last week or two, and yes we are probably a young team that is developing and has nowhere near the experience of Sunbury or Redan. But don’t underestimate the vigour of youth.”
While Jordan is leaving the door open for injured players Jason Delaney (ankle), Brad Whittaker (hamstring) and Sam Cooper (lower leg) to prove their fitness by Saturday, and will likely name them in the hope of them coming up, there are doubts any of the three will actually take the field.
“Those players are really hard to replace, there’s no doubt,” Jordan said. “The only way to do it is to put the onus on other guys to pick up their workload.
“Matthew Bilton will have to shoulder more on-ball work and other guys such as Alex Bartlett and Dan Tung, who have done a fair bit of midfield work during the year, will have to shoulder that load too.
“You are coming up against one of the best midfields in the ‘comp’. Our guys need to provide a contest and, if they can break even, I’ll be really happy.”
Redan co-coach Eammon Gill, meanwhile, insisted ruckman Nick Bye would return to the senior team on Saturday despite missing plenty of football. He said there were reasons the L&H Lions had been less dominant than earlier in the season not related to form.
“Early in the year we had no injuries and had our full squad to select from, where towards the back half of the year a number of players were injured and others were sick,” he said.
“One bonus (of losing the qualifying final) is players have been able to string games together. I think our form has been okay, it’s just our defence and accountability. Once we have the footy we have the players who can kick the score and win the game.”