PLAYERS ALREADY RESPONDING TO NEW COACH AND WANDERERS CHAMPION MOTLOP
AARON Motlop’s first journey into senior coaching has already struck a chord with the Wanderers’ faithful.
The dual premiership player and 2010-11 Chaney medallist replaced his cousin Shannon at the coaching helm after a turbulent off-season at the Eagles.
But good numbers at training, and the return of inspirational skipper Braedon McLean and champion defender Daniel Weetra, has the club looking forward.
“The players are pretty motivated and committed despite a lot of finals happening in other sports like rugby league, soccer and basketball and lockdowns and the like associated with Covid,” Motlop said.
“With border restrictions and Covid’s ongoing presence, it’s been hard to get a real solid commitment from our interstate players and we’re not the only club in that boat.”
On the debit side, big marking spearhead Brett Eddy has told the club he won’t be back for the new season.
“I think Brett’s probably winding up his career after indicating he won’t be returning, but as with all of our players, the door is always open if he changes his mind,” Motlop said.
“As for the interstate guys who did so well for us last season – Brodie Newman, Dane McFarlane, Shaun Mannagh and Brydan Hodgson – we’re certainly hoping they come back.”
Motlop is in constant discussion with the league on the exact number of interstate recruits allowed at league clubs.
“What we’re working towards is a fly-in, fly-out situation where they come to
Darwin for a few weeks and get two or three games together while they’re here,” he said.
Club captain McLean returns after missing last season’s finals series through suspension, and Weetra will be back in his familiar No.21 jumper.
Motlop wants his club’s talented junior base to sprout wings this season.
“We’ve had really talented juniors for the last five or six years and even longer, so we’re very keen to give an opportunity for them to play senior footy,” he said.
“But like everyone else, we want them to commit to footy and continue to come down to training to try and improve themselves.
“They’ll have to put senior players out of the side, so they’ve got to train with some integrity and perform on the training track and in games.”