Familiar faces set to lead versatile Falcons

VERSATILITY is set to be a key feature of the Geelong Falcons girls squad in 2021, according to new coach Paul Corrigan. He leads somewhat of a homecoming among the Falcons’ staffing ranks, returning to the region alongside incoming talent operations lead, Tom Lonergan – formerly of the Calder Cannons.

Corrigan is also set to coach the Vic Country squad and oversee the Falcons’ boys program as part of his new full-time role, one which he is “thoroughly enjoying”. He says returning home to Geelong has suited him, and having familiar faces has made for a great working relationship thus far.

“Obviously I knew Tommy beforehand so when I found out that he was going for that role and obviously he was really keen to get back to Geelong as well, it fitted nicely,” Corrigan said.

“We work really well together, we have a great relationship and I think it just helps too with being back in the region with the people we’ve known over a number of years and the relationships that we’ve got just makes it a little bit easier from that perspective too. “We’ve got a good grasp on the region and the leagues within (it) as well across both boys and girls, so we’re just really looking forward to it.”

The former Geelong Cats player and Essendon development coach says the Falcons girls have really “impressed” him since returning from an extended break, with their fitness base and skill level seeing them “firing and ready to go” ahead of Round 1 this weekend.

“I was really impressed with the amount of talent through the group,” he said. “When they first came back pre-Christmas I was really impressed with how good their skills were, how clean they were with ball in hand as well. “It almost suggested they had done a little bit (of work) through that Covid period when we had the break from footy.

“They’ve prepared themselves really well. “They came back looking like they hadn’t missed a beat and I think they’re just really eager and energised to play a game of footy this weekend which will be great.”

Corrigan’s assessment of the Falcons’ age profile suggests there remains a strong core of draft eligible leaders, along with some exciting younger talent which will continue to supply the elite level for years to come. The coach’s philosophies also came to the fore when discussing Geelong’s squad; with versatility, a team mentality, and strength-based coaching at the fore.

“I think we’ve been pretty blessed with the way our list has panned out,” he said. “We’ve got a good bracket of girls that are the ’04 births, then we’ve got another good bracket of the ’03s and then we’ve got girls who’ll be turning 19 this year, so we’ve got a really good mix of really good youth within the side with that core group in the middle. “There’s some real experience so from that blend I think it’ll work really well across the ground.

“My philosophy with the girls has been that I’m really keen to make them quite versatile in the way they play, and not just one-positional players. “We’ve had some good conversations around being a bit multi-functional with where they play and not just pigeonholing one position, but generating a couple of positions for these girls because if they are fortunate enough to go onto the next level… they can get selected on the basis that they can play numerous positions as well.

“I’m not a big one on individualising the standouts. “I’ve said to the girls, there’s no point in coming into a program like this and just looking at your room for improvements all the time. “You’ve got to this level because your strengths have shown in your football at local or school level. “Obviously we’ll set a template on how we want to play, but I’ve just encouraged the girls to showcase those strengths when they play and I think we’ve seen that across the board.

“We’ll probably get a gauge on who are the ones who’ll play good consistent football once we get into the season. It’s really hard to predict at the moment because we’ve missed so much footy, but I think Rounds 1, 2, and 3 we’ll start to see where our strengths lie and who’ll become the really consistent performers in our side.”

Another key trait of the side is leadership quality, which extends beyond the captain, Lucy Were, and vice-captain, Poppy Schapp. Corrigan says the side is “blessed” with leaders throughout, with the pair in charge driving key values of the region.

“The players voted on their leaders, so we’ve just named a captain and vice-captain and they just did that based on our values at the Falcons,” he said.

“Our captains are going to be Lucy Were this year and our vice-captain’s going to be Poppy Schapp. “They’re two fantastic leaders who have shown great leadership amongst the group throughout preseason, and also just driving the values within training.

“Even outside of training as well, I’ve been really impressed with how tight-knit the group is through preseason and I see a number of leaders within that side, I don’t just see them two as the main two, “I think we’re pretty blessed with the type and quality of girls in our side that possess leadership qualities.”

With no significant injuries throughout preseason and just about a full squad to choose from in Round 1, the Falcons are in good shape to swoop on the 2021 season. They take on the Greater Western Victoria Rebels on home turf this Sunday, hoping to once again start their campaign on a winning note.

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