By Matt Fotia
There’s always a buzz around Berwick.
Don’t expect 2020 to be the year it goes away.
After coming back to the club to replace Stewart Kewperman in 2019, Rhys Nisbet chose to stay for just one year, stepping down from the role in the days following Berwick’s shock Grand Final loss to Narre Warren.
Before long they’d found his replacement, with Clint Evans taking over soon after.
Evans last coached at Berwick’s arch rivals Beaconsfield, where he masterminded the Eagles 2014 premiership and was helping Nisbet and Berwick last season, and is looking forward to the challenge of helping the Wickers back to the summit in 2020.
“I was just helping out a little bit last year and a few things happened and just like that I was in the job – I knew just after grand final day about Rhys’ decision and we were in talks pretty soon after,”
“It’s a massive challenge(the Berwick job), they’ve played in the last five grand finals and have won three so to go back to the pinnacle again will be a big challenge for sure,”
“The list is very similar to last year, Bryce (Rutherford) mentioned he wanted to go test himself in the Eastern Football Netball League and we were never going to stop him, but besides him we haven’t lost anyone massive and we get Luke Sheppard back in about round four after his knee kept him out of action last season.”
That loss to Narre Warren in last seasons decider was a tough pill to swallow for the Wickers, who were the best side across the whole season. Evans says a lengthy break away from the club was just what was required for the players to refresh and recharge ahead of season 2020.
“Training’s been fantastic I couldn’t be happier with them,”
“We sat down about a month after the Grand Final, because they had to get away from it, that last week of the season sort of went completely against the plan, so a lot of the boys just needed time away from the club and we gave them a good six weeks before we all came back, watched the video with them and since then they’ve been unreal,”
“It’ll be a bit different to last year in the way we set up, we’ll probably put a bit more work into our defence, but that’s about it because if they’ve been playing off for the last five flags they must be doing something right.”
Evans says that the Wickers are staying focused on what they can control and aren’t looking too deep into what other clubs have done over the off-season.
“I haven’t heard too much about the rest of the competition, I know Cranbourne have got Holty (Marc Holt) and the boys back and that’s great for the league, Narre have got Nick Battle and I don’t know too much about Beaconsfield and the blokes from Valley, I know they’ve picked up, but I don’t know anything about them,”
“But for us it’s about worrying about what we can do and trying to go one better.”
2019 promised a lot, but in the end it delivered just the three A Grade wins for Berwick Netball Club.
But with a new coach in Glen Stow and a new shooter in ex Narre Warren star Chloe Phillips, the ‘Wicker Chicks’ look set to deliver a few more in 2020.
New tactician Stow has been impressed with the morale and numbers at the clubs pre-season training as he looks to develop a new gameplan and new set of players for the upcoming season.
“It’s a really good bunch of girls and we’re getting really good numbers to training and it’s a challenge that I’m looking forward too, getting the club back up the ladder,”
“2019 saw the group maybe a little bit disjointed, they had pressure on them, they were unsure and I think they were uncertain about some of the other things around the club,”
“We’ve had a few girls move on, but we’ve had a few girls come to the club as well and we’re starting to building our strengths up again, developing a gameplan and working hard.”
“The gameplan will be one that we want them to stick to and is obviously based around where our strengths lie, but it needs complete buy in from everyone and so far we’ve got that and we’re looking to entrench it over the coming practice matches,”
“It was no secret that we lacked some depth in our shooting last year, so Chloe will strengthen that right up and we’ve had a couple of girls come back to the club who will slot into the mid court.”
With new players, a new coach, a new game plan and a new attitude Stow expects the Wickers to surprise a few on their march up the ladder.
“The aim for us is to try get ourselves to finals – I think we’ve got the team and the capabilities to do so,”
“I think if we can get it right we can beat a few teams who probably don’t expect us to beat them.”