THE Greater Western Victorian Rebels had a very up and down 2018 season but pushed hard at times to gain some upset wins, none bigger than the Wild Card game against the Northern Knights. Though the Rebels fell heavily the next week against Dandenong, they will take a lot of confidence out of their finals performance and will be hoping to build on that momentum come the 2019 season. Rebels’ Talent Manager, Phil Partington praised the work of his side last year but also credited the development of his new squad casting an eye to the future for GWV.
“I think we got the best out of our group last year. Our best game was certainly the wildcard, we built that up as our final and we probably weren’t going to be as strong as the Dandenong Stingrays ever, so even though that game was a bit of a whitewash I think some of our boys got somewhere, we had some good performers in that game as well,” he said.
While Thomas Berry was the only player drafted last year from the club, Partington is excited about the future with the Rebels, crediting the depth at the club.
“We’ve got a really good exciting group of boys who are working really hard,” Partington said. “We’ve worked hard with our bottom age players from last year to create a good culture at our footy club and those guys will carry our bottom agers through this year I think.”
Partington highlighted the continued development of 19-year-old returnees, James Cleaver, Matty Lloyd and Jed Hill.
“They’re experienced players that know the system and really reacted to the feedback we’ve been given,” he said.
While at times the Rebels’ skills were not as polished as other clubs last season, they have been working to develop and finesse their skills to become a more efficient side.
“We’ve been really working hard on our skills and our craft, and we’ve been very pleased with the output so far,” Partington said. “We’re pleased to get down to 42 in the final squad so we’ll see how they go.”
The Rebels seem to have a clear focus on developing a team environment and ensuring that each individual player feels welcomed while also allowing players to express their personality both on and off the field. Looking ahead to season 2019 the Rebels are hoping to focus more on the skilled side of the game rather than honing in on elements such as game plans.
“Team first approach is our aim this year, we want to certainly bring the flair of individuals into the game and to have that open running game but we’ve done zero on game plan, we’re not a game plan competition,” Partington said. “More fundamentals, then getting the players to showcase their skills to the AFL recruiters.”
Coming into the 2019 season, the GWV Rebels Talent Manager does not have many expectations upon his squad, instead opting for a more relaxed motto focusing on the development of players.
“No expectations, we don’t put any expectations on our players, we just want them to go out and enjoy their footy and also develop as a person and the results will come out,” Partington said. “We’ll be very close knit unit and a very competitive unit, that’s what we want.”
GWV Rebels begin their 2019 NAB League campaign against reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays at MARS Stadium on Saturday, March 23.