TASMANIA Devils have a key focus for the 2021 season and that is to be a team that is renowned for their pressure and intensity according to coach and talent manager Cameron Joyce. After only managing to play two games last season prior to the NAB League Girls cancellation the Devils are raring to go and have a real buzz about them.
“We certainly want to be a respected team in the competition. We certainly want to be a team that will go forward with the ball and be able to hit the scoreboard. But at the same time probably a hallmark of our game will probably be our pressure, and the way we are able to apply layers of pressure to the opposition,” Joyce said.
With the season opener around the corner, Joyce highlighted the overall level of enthusiasm amongst the group as they prepare for Round 1 on Saturday and the season as a whole.
“Yeah they’ve been super excited wanting to learn and wanting to improve and we’ve had a really good preseason and yeah just looking forward to getting into it,” he said.
“It’s been a long wait, for staff and players included in terms of the NAB League that you know there was only two games last year for the girls. It’s been a long wait and then you know obviously training in the lead up to it, but I think everyone just wants to get out there,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve done enough work to be able to produce some good football and the girls can play it, the way we want to play but everyone’s just looking forward to playing the game of footy.”
Although pre-season training was hindered due to the COVID-19 protocols – albeit not as tight as Victoria – the Devils still found a way to keep their spirits high and engage in some form of training to iron out any kinks in the armour.
“Yeah, they certainly had a little break off the back of their season at the end of last year,” Joyce said. “We probably had a good month before Christmas and then they had three weeks off and then we’ve been able to build up over the last three or four weeks.”
One of the most promising signs was the Devils ability to get out on the park and enjoy an intraclub match to test out the combinations across the ground and really solidify the unit heading into the opening round of action.
“We had a hitout out on the weekend, which was great and we had an intraclub the week before so we feel like we’re ready to go against opposition and just see where we’re at,” Joyce said.
Tasmania has an “extensive leadership group of eight players” this season showcasing the number of talented players coming through the ranks at the club with the Devils announcing their captain and vice captains in Olivia Smith, Jemma Webster and Jemma Blair respectively.
“We’ve got Jemma Webster, and Jemma Blair both our vice captain’s, Jemma Webster in the midfield, and Jemma Blair across half-back both had good preseasons and Olivia Smith our captain on the wing. “She runs all day and keeps getting the footy so she’s been going well.”
Highlighting pressure as a key focal point for the upcoming season Joyce also expressed his pleasure with the midfield highlighting the depth of the squad and most importantly touted the notion of continued development throughout the Devils unit.
“Our midfield has been has been pretty strong, which is been good so we’re certainly hoping for that just continuous improvement from those players,” Joyce said.
With a number of exciting prospects set to take the field, one name in particular that is gearing up for a big season is Perri King with the AFL Women’s Academy member a lynchpin for the side.
“She’ll (Perri King) probably play predominantly in the midfield this year, but she’ll also spend some time forward as well seeing because she is quite good above the head, in terms of marking ability and we hope she’s going to be able to hit the scoreboard as well when she’s down there, so yeah I think mainly those two roles, for Perri at this stage,” Joyce said.
“Ella Maurer is another one that has been performing really well. “She’s another midfielder, she gets a lot of the ball, she’s also been a goal kicker in our games, thus far. “We’re hoping for big, big things from Ella.”
“We’ve got quite an even spread of players that are performing well. “We’ve got a couple of 20-year-old’s that have come back as overagers in Camilla Taylor and Priscila Odwogo. One is playing at one end, Camila’s playing forward at the moment and Priscilla is playing back and both of them are playing good football at the moment.”
The list of players to watch did not stop there with Joyce highlighting the likes of Amy Prokopiec, Charlie Vandenberg and Claire Ransom as some faces to look out for in the upcoming season given their skillset and ability to run all day.
Despite being in another state, travel does not seem to faze Tasmania who are more than up to the challenge given the number of players that travel from all parts of the state in order to play at the top level.
“To be honest, it takes longer in the car to drive to some of those places than it does to fly to Melbourne,” Joyce said. “It is fair to say that the 50-minute plane ride isn’t going to be too much of an issue for the girls and the staff.”
The Devils kickstart their season against Gippsland Power at Highgate Recreation Reserve from 12.30pm.