Barnard: ‘Get the small wins along the way’

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 2:00 PM by Katie de Haer

Jeremy Barnard has reaffirmed his commitment to 'blooding' his young playing group as part of the club’s rebuild.

Barnard is in his second season at the helm of East Perth, after taking the reins as league coach at the end of the East Perth – West Coast Eagles alignment in 2018.

The three-time premiership winning captain said while the team’s inconsistency during matches was frustrating, he was encouraged by the development of the playing group.

Excluding veteran defender Nathan Blee (132 games) and Callum Hart (72 league games), the Royals' backline against Claremont averaged just 6.6 games of league experience, with Kye Willcocks (17 games),  Jacob Msando (5), Jordan Hayden (4), Thomas Hooper (4) and Corey Watts (3).

“We’re certainly happy with the development, albeit inconsistent (at times),” Barnard told 91.3 Sport FM on Tuesday.

“Taking away Nathan Blee who has played over 100 games, our average league games played in our backline on the weekend, was less than 10.

“With our player development and strategy, we feel these are the players we’re going to go forward with, and if they all grow together, once you get into that 60, 70, 80 game bracket, history has shown that we should become a serious contender for the finals.

“All we can do is expose our players, all we can do is educate them and put them in situations where they can learn and help them along the way. 

“We certainly feel our list is moving in the right direction.”

It’s the battle of the co-tenants on Saturday as East Perth take on Subiaco in a must win clash at Leederville Oval.

The Royals are coming off a loss, after squandering a 19-point buffer at half time, to be overrun by Claremont who finished 12.14 (86) to 8.4 (52) winners.

“If we’re being very honest, which I’m happy to do, I think we’ve been very inconsistent,” said Barnard.

“It’s certainly not only frustrating for me, but for the coaches and the playing group.

“We can all recognise what happens when we play the brand of football that we’re after – the Royals’ way – we call it.

“When we fall away, and take ourselves out of the game, it’s certainly frustrating.

“We’re on a 3-5 year journey to rebuild the football club and success doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve got to keep going at it, keep training, keep educating and get the small wins along the way.”

The Royals have been left to rue periods of inconsistency within games, which have denied them a chance of victory against three of the WAFL’s top-four teams. East Perth now sit 1-3 with four home and away rounds to go.

“Footy hasn’t changed in 100 years; you’ve got to play four quarters. In the games we’ve lost, we haven’t played four quarters.

“(So far) we’ve played patches that we’ve been very happy with. Against good sides, or any sides in the WAFL, you can’t play less than four quarters.

“That’s our area of growth for the second half of the year, to play consistent football for four quarters.”

With a finals berth still in reach, Barnard said the Royals’ would throw everything they have at the second half of the season.

“Even though we’re 1-3, we still feel we’ve got some life left in us to make the finals and Subiaco would be thinking the same thing.

“They’re a well drilled side and we’ll have to be at our best to get over the top of them.

“If you look at a standard season, it’s percentage that makes all the difference. It’s a bit magnified given the short season.

“We still think we’re a chance, we’re not giving up until it’s impossible for us.”