Barnard back to restore Royals culture

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 9:56 AM by Chris Pike

WHILE under no illusions about the job ahead to turn East Perth back into a competitive standalone WAFL outfit, as a favourite son of the Royals Jeremy Barnard is all about restoring the club's culture built around the never-say-die attitude.

East Perth will return to being a standalone club in the 2019 WAFL season as the alignment with the West Coast Eagles comes to an end.

That means that the Eagles will now have their own club in the WAFL from 2019 onwards while the Royals will return to their traditional roots of not having the West Coast aligned players in the league and reserves teams on the weekend.

What that immediately meant for Barnard when he was appointed coach was that he had to find a whole batch of players to either recruit or welcome back to East Perth to ensure they could not only fill the required numbers in 2019, but to be a competitive outfit.

While it may remain a work in progress for East Perth to become a true power again as they replenish their player stocks, Barnard has always been a winner and has no reason not to still be aiming to be successful with East Perth.

Barnard has plenty of winning history with the Royals as a triple premiership captain from the start of this century so while he knows there's plenty of work to do, he wants East Perth to set their sights on winning immediately but only if they get the culture right.

"We've been quite specific about installing within the player group the East Perth culture and brand," Barnard said. 

"We've really worked hard on being high performance and that's not just with the players, that's with the staff, the support staff, the coaching staff and the No. 1 question we ask them is what are you doing to make your area high performance. 

"Then in terms of culture, we are working hard to lift our standards to get to what I would consider acceptable standards. The majority of the players have come along nicely and the Royals culture has always been to never give up. We've been quite specific with the players that we will never give up this season."

Upon taking over the job in charge of the club he achieved such great success at as a player, Barnard wants to aim for the Royals to be successful and he wants everyone involved with the club to be aiming for that as well.

"Our expectations this year have been quite clear I think. East Perth is in the premiership winning business and we'll be looking to win the premiership this year," he said.

"Now whether we do or not depends on a range of factors and it would be reckless of me to turn around and say we are going to win the premiership. But that is our No. 1 aim and we'll try to finish as high up the ladder as we possibly can. We will always look to push forward and perform at the level required that East Perth demands.

"I couldn't be more happy with the players so far. They've been working extremely hard and we've been training almost four hours three days a week. The players have applied themselves very well and it's a brand-new game plan with new terminology and a different way of coaching for them to get used to. 

"So it did take a few weeks to get used to that but from this point we're looking to accelerate their learning and education, and bed down the game plan."

Among the players the Royals have been able to bring in for 2019 include former VFL player Angus Scott, West Perth premiership star Rohan Kerr and former AFL-listed dynamo Jarrhan Jacky.

Joel Houghton, Matthew Johnson and Nick Hay are among the others to come across from other clubs with Mitch Howlett, Tony Olango, Tarir Bayok and Shaquille McKenzie among the players to recommit to a full-time return to East Perth.

A big thing Barnard wanted to do when he was appointed coach, with help from football manager Ward Harris and chief executive Dean Turner, was to touch base with all the players that have left the Royals during their years of being aligned with the Eagles.

While not all the players were receptive to a return, Barnard wanted each and every one of them to know that the door was open for them should they wish to come back.

The playing squad remains a work in progress, but Barnard is comfortable that he has a good enough group to be competitive to start things off in 2019.

"What we did was make contact with all our past players that left for one reason or another. Some are quite happy in their contract and where they are or others might think about it for a couple of years so we'll keep on their case," Barnard said.

"I think everyone realises that we will need to find 14 or 15 extra players that are going to be able to play in the league team every week from last year. We are recruiting and have recruited a number of players made up of guys we've brought back and we've got some from other areas. 

"We got one recruit from Victoria and I'm happy to say that Angus Scott was an elite player in the VFL. He played in two VFL grand finals and played for Casey Scorpions who are aligned with Melbourne. 

"We'll be exposing and giving opportunities to players who have been here for the last few years or have come up through the colts. They'll get an opportunity to cement their league spot because there was a lot of talk about the limited opportunities during the alignment, so now we have our opportunity to give and the players have to take it."

As for his own coaching path, Barnard always wanted to transition into senior coaching having had a successful stint in the TAC Cup in recent years with Sandringham having moved to Melbourne at the end of his WAFL playing career at East Perth.

It was always a dream to come back and coach the Royals given the history he was part of as a player and he couldn’t be happier to now be in charge heading East Perth into this new era.

"I've spent the last 13 years, coming up 14, in Melbourne always with the aim of getting into senior coaching and coach my own side either at the state or WAFL level," Barnard said.

"I did four years at Sandringham in the TAC Cup which was hugely successful both for the number of people we got drafted and also for the club, winning the 2016 premiership and then losing in 2017 by a kick. 

"But four years was enough in the TAC so I was looking for a senior position at the next level and East Perth made some enquiries to see if I was interested. 

"From there it pretty much went into the interview and then the position became available. I'm really looking forward to being back home, I've brought my family back with me and my wife and three kids are settling back in really well."