Q & A: Jeremy Barnard

Monday, June 29, 2020 - 7:20 AM by Katie de Haer

East Perth will open its season against Perth at Mineral Resources Park in Round 2 of the 2020 Optus WAFL Season on July 25. League Coach Jeremy Barnard gives supporters an update on what to expect.

We’re about six weeks into a second mini pre-season, due to COVID-19. How are things progressing?

JB: We’re really happy with the work the strength and conditioning department has done to prepare the guys. As you could guess, they were champing at the bit to get into the work. We’ve been really happy with how they’ve gone. We just need to knock a bit of rust off to get sharper before the start of the season, which is only three weeks away. We’re pretty confident we’re in a good spot.

You spoke about the start of the season – East Perth don’t play in round one, due to the bye. But, we do have some scratch matches coming up, one of those against Subiaco. Is there a bigger test than that - the reigning premiers? 

JB: It’s exactly what we wanted. We wanted to test ourselves straight away against the benchmark of the competition and they have been for a long time. We need to know where we’re at and we need to expose our list and our players to the best team. We’re really looking forward to playing Subiaco and we’ll play South Fremantle the week after – the two grand finalists from last year. We think that’ll be a great warm-up for us and let us know exactly where we’re at.

Jono Freeman has arrived in Perth and will join the group in about a week's time. At 199cm and 100 kilos, he’s a key position forward but can also pinch-hit in the ruck - how much will his arrival benefit the team?

JB: First of all we’re really grateful to have Jono. He was ready to come but he had some health issues, so we said to him the number one thing was for him to get himself healthy again. We met his dad and he’s from a fantastic family - we’re rapt to have him part of the Royals. He’ll be a tall, key position player to add to the three talls we’ve already got. We think that will give us flexibility, in addition to Tom Amos. To play three genuine talls will help stretch the opposition and give us good flexibility in the ruck or down back, if needed.  

Kyle Anderson and Sharrod Wellingham retired during the COVID shutdown period – how will you account for that loss?

JB: It’s certainly a lot of experience. For a young and developing side like we are at the moment, it’s not a great position to be in when you lose so many games of experience. But, the reality is, you have to adapt quickly and those guys have been fantastic servants of the football club and we wish them all the best with their lives going forward. But, it gives another opportunity for one of our players to be exposed to league footy and rise to the occasion. 

Jackson Ramsay won last year’s FD Book Medal playing predominately as a midfielder. The club has value added in the midfield in the off-season bringing in Nick Robertson, Angus Schumacher and Aidan Lynch. What kind of role do you see Jackson playing? Will he play off half back or stay in the midfield?

JB: He's a genuine midfielder now. He’s one of our on-field leaders, our vice-captain, playing in the midfield. We’ll certainly look to develop him as a key mid, going forward and kicking a few goals as well. That’s one of the things we want to try to work on, our mids going forward and being really dangerous and creative when they go there.

Pat McGinnity was announced as sole captain earlier this month with Jackson Ramsay as his vice-captain. What kind of influence will they have on the side?

JB: The captain sets the tone of the group and the standard of the group and there’s a real strong conduit between the coaching staff and the playing group. It’s a vital position and we felt Patrick was the best man for the job. He’s obviously done it for a number of years alongside Kyle. We felt that with Pat’s experience and competitiveness, and also his steady and calming influence off the field, he was the right man for the job. We’re filled with a lot of confidence going into the season.

As mentioned before, with Kyle Anderson retiring it will be some big shoes to fill. How will you navigate that?

JB: We’ve tried a couple of guys there. We’ll probably settle on Nathan Eaton going back and playing that hybrid back for us. We also brought in Brad Fullgrabe (Swan Districts) and Corey Watts (Sandringham Dragons). We feel we’ve brought the right type of player in to help us fill that gap. We won’t be able to fill it straight away, simply because of the amount of games that Kyle played for us, but we’re pretty confident with our backline group. With Jamie Rudrum, Kye Willcocks and Jaxon Cahill, we feel those guys are going to be great for us in their development as well.