Swans Response To First Game In Three Weeks Impresses Coach

Friday, June 1, 2018 - 9:34 AM by Chris Pike

SWAN Districts played its first game in three weeks and impressively beat East Perth on Saturday with coach Adam Pickering continuing to marvel at veterans like Rhys Palmer and David Ellard while Taryce Stewart sent a reminder of his quality in his first game of the season.

It was a tricky period for Swan Districts to deal with after losing to South Fremantle in Round 6 before then next playing three weeks later against East Perth at Leederville Oval.

There was WA's State game victory in Adelaide over South Australia and then the Round 7 bye in between those matches for Swans which did cause a degree of concern for first-year coach Pickering over the best way to handle it.

Whatever he did, he should bottle because Swans hit the ground running piling on six goals to two against the Royals in the first quarter.

They would go on to lead by 12 points still at half-time and 37 points at three quarter-time before winning by 13 to improve to a 4-3 record on the season and leapfrog East Perth into fourth position on the ladder heading into this Saturday's match against Perth back at Steel Blue Oval.

Pickering wasn’t quite sure how Swans would come out after the three weeks in between games and he certainly had a degree of nerves considering it was his first game against the club he played 111 games with and coached both at colts and reserves level.

But the way Swans started the game soon quelled those nerves and he was happy with the response from the group.

"It started well with the colts, the ressies unfortunately went down against a young and strong East Perth line-up, but we were pretty pleased with the effort of the league boys. It was a bit of a relief I guess, I was pretty nervous driving to the ground. It was a good day," Pickering told WAFL World on 91.3 SportFM.

"It was a bit awkward and it's the first time I've been involved in a double-bye. It was two weeks off but it was basically three weeks because it was 21 days in between games so it's a fair chunk of the season out. It was a bit of a balancing act.

"We gave the boys basically the first week off and then started to build back into it in the second week. We were lucky enough to have practice matches against the State 16s and 18s the week before the East Perth game and then build up to the East Perth game. It was good to have the break but it was probably a little too long in an ideal world."

The leading goalkicker in the game proved to be a man playing his first game of the season for Swans, Taryce Stewart.

He had played 20 games and kicked 35 goals coming into the season, but after an interrupted pre-season he had to bide his time in the reserves and wasn’t quite banging the door down.

But Pickering bit the bullet and played him against East Perth on Saturday and it paid dividends with him kicking four goals in the 13-point victory.

While Pickering was happy for him to kick the goals, it was the defensive pressure he liked even more and that's what will decide how far he goes now in his future more than anything according to the coach.

"Taryce is an unbelievable talent. Some of the stuff he does with the footy, he's just like a hoover around the footy. Every time it hits the deck he picks it up one touch and it's incredible to watch. He kicked four goals on the weekend but I didn’t notice that," he said.

"I actually didn’t realise that until after the game, but what I was most impressed with was his forward half pressure. He was chasing guys like Mitch Fraser and Francis Watson down, and he was really unrelenting in chasing those guys down.

"We want to base his game around that and we just want him to build some match fitness, and get up to league level with his fitness and the speed of the game.

"Hopefully in the perfect world we can get him through the midfield for three or four minutes a quarter as well because the skill level and touch that he's got would be a real asset to our midfield at the moment."

Once Pickering was appointed coach, his first mission was to try and secure the signature of Rhys Palmer following his 123-game career in the AFL split between Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney and Carlton.

Palmer had come from East Fremantle and wanting the Sharks to have first crack at his services, but when it became clear their focuses lay elsewhere, he was more than happy to commit to Swan Districts.

Not only is Palmer averaging 26.7 possessions a game and has kicked 10 goals in his six appearances in black-and-white which Pickering has obviously been pleased with, but it's the way he has embraced the whole club that has been even more impressive.

"Rhys from Day 1 when we first spoke and met has had nothing but respect for the whole process and our situation as a club. In fact he gave his old club almost every chance and was very respectful to them, and didn’t rush his decision," he said.

"He always kept us informed of where he was at, he was really open and a quality guy. His influence on us has been a real positive one in terms of our younger guys.

"He played over 100 games, won a Rising Star and was a top 10 draft pick so his professionalism and how he goes about his training and recovery is a real asset for our younger guys especially at a semi-professional level where that sort of stuff can get missed.

"He also sits in the box for the colts and helps out coaching there, and when he was injured early in the season he sat in the box with us and was very helpful with his feedback to the young guys. He has been a terrific asset for us."

One man who Pickering was instantly impressed by when he arrived at Swan Districts was co-captain David Ellard and the respect for him has only continued to grow ever since.

"Coming to the club and not knowing Dave other than being a Carlton supporter my whole life, the first time I met him I thought no wonder this guy is the captain," Pickering said.

"He is just a real quality young man who goes about his training the best possible way he can. He's had his injury concerns the last couple of years but he's always rehabbing well and driving the group with setting standards on the track and on game day."