By Matt Fotia
After a coming so close in 2019, Monbulk are set to soar this year with coaches Andrew Williams and Christina Puopolo both bullish about their collective units ahead of the 2020 season.
After going the first 11 rounds of the 2019 season unbeaten, Monbulk seemed to already have one hand on the Division One trophy in Williams first year at the helm. With a settled 22 that moved seamlessly on the same wavelength, they looked imperious for the first 11 weeks of the year.
But injuries and alike saw Williams reshuffling his pack and thus their cutting edge gameplan began to fray and with the back up plan not at the same level a preliminary final exit awaited them. That loss against Pakenham showcased this better than any other result, as the Hawks dominated possession but could not hit the scoreboard.
Williams and co are determined to make sure this doesn’t happen again, with the Hawks striving to find that extra 10 percent and ensure they’ve got more than a good plan A in 2020.
“When we started to shuffle around our back six or seven our ball movement from the back half wasn’t as free as it had been in the first 10 or so weeks of the season and we played a bit safe, kicking down the line a bit too often,”
“But we’re trying to find other ways to move the ball and other guys who will be able to suit the roles should they open it,”
“It certainly helps that we’re finding more blokes that can run the footy and kick the footy which means we can play faster when we have to and slower when we need to,”
“We want to be able to kick a winning score against better outfits – we need to be able to kick a winning score every week.”
The Hawks have more or less stuck by the playing group that took them to the Preliminary Final in 2019, with only three real additions to the squad so far with Liam Hunt (East Ringwood), Jayden Joyce (Berwick) and ex Dandenong Stingray and prodigious goal kicker Taylor Joyce (Beaconsfield) signing on for 2020, with the latter a move that will help Williams team kick that winning score they so crave.
“I had a bit to do with Taylor at Beaconsfield when he was coming through, he’s super talented with a great pair of hands, a beautiful kick and some deceptive speed,”
“He’s going to add some more firepower up forward for us, so hopefully that will free up Langers (Michael Langworthy) and the smaller forwards.”
Despite the fact the Hawks have now had a year to get used to the new competition, the high turnover of clubs and players in and out of their division means the competition remains the mysterious unknown for the ex West Coast Eagle and Collingwood Magpie.
He knows one thing for sure though – his team will be around the mark once again.
“It’s still a little bit of the unknown, but from all accounts Officer and Emerald will be around the mark, Mount Evelyn play well on their home ground and Seville have been successful for last little period, so yeah it’s a bit of the unknown,”
“But what we do know is that we’re going to be a hard side to play against most weeks.”
Christina Puopolo knows how to coach netball.