by Matt Fotia
The Burras nest is a good place to be in 2019 according to first year senior football coach Brendon Murphy after his side got over the line for the first time in the AFL Outer East era, knocking off Belgrave by six points in a thriller on Saturday.
Watch the final two minutes here
Murphy is proud of his sides effort across the first three rounds, even in their heavy round one loss to Mount Evelyn. The coach says the scoreboard was unfair on his side who showed ‘massive improvement on last year, but just couldn’t maintain it after half time’. The Rovers took full toll having 22 scoring shots in the second half.
Murphy’s focus has been on the Burras defensive efforts. They conceded 2434 points across 2018 at an average of 135 points per game. This season they are conceding 96, but that number should continue to drop as the Burras start to improve their situational awareness.
“Once the players recognise the situation and player A knows where player B is and he knows what player C is doing you’ll see some more defensive cohesion and some lower opposition scores,”
“They’re getting it, slowly but surely but they are getting it.”
The young Burra’s defenders are also benefiting from the mentorship of new recruit David Lever and Josh Taylor, who were named best and second best in their six point win at the weekend. Taylor and Murphy will play sporadically throughout the year, both to manage their bodies and ensure the development of the young Burras.
Murphy says Taylor’s outlook on the game is invaluable, constantly reminding the Warby youngsters that football is just a game, and to always back themselves in.
“When the game was in the balance on the weekend, I heard him tell a couple of young fellas ‘just keep taking risks – they’ll pay off,”
“It was the best thing for them because if we go into our shell we probably don’t get the ball forward and allow Tommy Marr a chance to be the hero and we take two points not four,”
“If you keep taking risks and sticking to your gameplan – it will pay off and the weekend was the first little reward for all the effort we’ve put in.”
For all the talk of the youth at the club, there are still plenty of experienced Burras flying around the park on a Saturday. 2018 Best and Fairest winner Liam Barnard has been on fire in the opening three rounds, kicking a goal a game and appearing in the best players on each occasion, whilst skipper Tim McKail has also made a couple of appearances in the best six and kicked two majors in Saturday’s win.
Murphy says the youth love soaking up the knowledge the experienced players have to offer, and the older brigade love seeing the young kids blossom.
“Most older footballer will say the best part of their latter years (career wise) is seeing the youngsters improve – it gives you great joy.”
They won’t be getting ahead of themselves at Mac Sparke Oval with the focus remaining on a sustainable level of improvement both on and off the field.
“We’re keeping our feet grounded, we’ve got some really good support at the club and a great culture,”
“It’s a great place to be at the moment.”