Springbank joint-coach Michael Searl has revealed the widespread injury concerns his team had leading into Saturday’s Central Highlands Football League grand final.
While the fitness concerns around Searl’s sidekick Nick Couch are well known, he wasn’t the only Tigers player that had a hampered preparation for the big day.
“We had a hard contest against Gordon (preliminary final) and the first night on the training track we had a lot of players who didn’t train,” Searl said.
‘You have that unknown in your head. Is everyone right? Is everyone fit?
“Robbie Lockett didn’t train, Tim Malone didn’t train, Matt Tyler didn’t train, Paul McMahon didn’t train, myself didn’t train and Nick Couch as well.
“We had to really manage this week, but we were never going to use that as an excuse if it didn’t go our way.”
With the list assembled by the reigning premiers during the off-season, Searl said there was no reason to hide from the fact the club wanted to dream big again in 2016.
“We retained, I think, 20 of our 22 premiership players,” he said.
“We certainly felt that if you add a couple more players to that and continue to look to improve then why avoid talking about finals and things like that?
“I remember the very first meeting that we had in front of the whole group. This is what we set out to do and we didn’t shy away from that, we didn’t feel that was an achievement we couldn’t accomplish.
Searl said he felt his team could go to another level after a first half that saw the Bombers trail by just five points.
“We felt in that first half that we weren’t quite at our best. We felt that there was another gear to go,” Searl said.
While walking off the ground on Saturday, Couch reflected on those early days when he and Searl took over at the helm from former coach Terry Simpson.
“We set a goal at the start of the year – the non-negotiable was to make the grand final,” Couch said.
“We had the talent, we got the likes of Tyler George in for the likes of a grand final. We set our sights, didn’t lose too many from last year, so it was just (about) making that grand final.
“Winning it was the next thing.”
While pleased with the recruiting for this season, Couch said it was homegrown talent such as Joel Maher and Justin Simpson that had big games on the big stage.
“It was the local boys that actually stood up as well,” he said.
Springbank last went back-to-back when winning the 2000 and 2001 premierships and next year the will be out to become the first in league history to win three flags in succession.
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