Panthers’ early work set to pay off
An early senior coaching appointment appears likely to provide Rupanyup with the foundation it needs to re-establish itself as a competitive force in Horsham District football.
The Panthers swooped in to quickly secure the leadership services of talented Jack Musgrove at the end of last season and dominoes have since started falling into place. Panthers president Rod Weidemann said it was well recognised that an early coaching appointment was critical in a pre-season build-up and confidence was already growing in the camp.
“Recruiting-wise, it certainly makes it easier when you’re talking to prospective players if you have a coach in place, and we have had some pretty handy inclusions,” he said.
Rupanyup finished 10th on the ladder with four wins last year, but showed plenty of promise when finally finding its feet late in the season.
Musgrove, in Darwin playing for St Marys in the Northern Territory League and also an AFL Northern Territory development co-ordinator, sets a high bar as a player and will shift into the coaching position when he returns to the Wimmera in March.
Last year’s coach Andrew May has the reins for the pre-season and after passing on the job to Musgrove will continue to use his experience in the Panthers’ coaching group.
Aerialist Zack May will continue as assistant coach and the club will also welcome Matt Tyler back to the fore after a successful stint with Springbank in Ballarat.
Elliott Kelly from Latrobe University club is also set to add spice to the Panthers’ midfield.
Perhaps the biggest excitement for the Panthers is the influx of other St Marys players Denny Musgrove, Jack’s brother, Zac Robinson and Chris Parris, who will join Hugh Mcmurtrie in the group travelling south.
All are Northern Territory premier-division players who are shifting to the Wimmera.
Mr Weidemann said Kelly, who is working in Horsham, was moving well on the training track, Denny Musgrove loomed as a running wingman, Robinson appeared a handy rebound half back and Parris shaped as an in-and-under ball-winner.
“We have David Lang back after having a year off with injury and Campbell Matthews and David South have returned to the club,” he said.
Jack Musgrove said from Darwin that the blend of home-grown players and new recruits would provide an ideal environment to develop a well-structured team.
“I’m hoping we can move the ball a lot quicker this year. We tended to get stuck around half back last season, but with the guys we have coming in and considering how fast the football is in Darwin, it should all work well,” he said.
“I’m certainly going to give it a red-hot crack and hopefully everything falls into place. I’ll be working closely with Maysie – I respect him highly and working together will be great.
“We lost a lot of games by less than 10 points last year. Hopefully with these six or seven new players we should be able to make up about five goals. “I’m playing with a great club – the best bunch of blokes I’ve played with in country Victoria.”
Mr Weidemann added that Rupanyup would also have the rare luxury this year of having players graduating from under-17 ranks.
“We’re starting from a pretty low base but it would be nice to think we could figure in the finals this year,” he said. “Like every other club, that’s what we’re aiming for, but we feel it’s a reasonable goal this year.”
Rupanyup has struggled for juniors in recent years but has 25 starters and possibly more to come in under-14s, while an under-17s list remains relatively thin.
The Panthers are training on Monday and Wednesday nights at Rupanyup reserve, which will change to Tuesday-thursday in the near future.
Mr Weidemann said the club was enjoying strong and loyal support from the district’s farming and sporting communities.