Roar coach confident season 2019 will be better

By Patrick Tansey

In many respects, Cobram Roar endured something of a nightmare season in the AWFA competition this year.

After enjoying a run to the grand final of the cup competition last year, as well as a third-placed finish in the league, the Roar could only muster eighth in the league this year.

Luck or lack thereof is usually ridden in waves and it seemed Cobram simply could not catch a break this season.

Beset by injuries to key players as well as overseas import Greg Simmons returning home halfway through the season, the Roar were forced to inject a raft of young players into the hustle and bustle of senior football.

As is the case with most youthful sporting sides lacking senior level experience, the Roar’s season was riddled with inconsistent results.

While the year was a frustrating season for co-coach Bill Puckett, he does not look at the year as a waste. He sees the silver-linings in having to blood so many youngsters.

And with those positives in mind, Puckett said it was an easy decision to sign on as senior coach for next year, alongside Manny Artavilla.

‘‘If anything, what went on this season made me want to do the job even more next year,’’ he said.

He said any feelings of bleakness with how the club’s season panned out had now been replaced by optimism.

‘‘I know it was a very tough year and we had our backs against the wall all season and not many things went our way.

‘‘But in saying that, I couldn’t have asked any more from all the players that finished the season and it gave me and the entire a club a general buzz and sense of excitement for next season.’’

Injuries were an incessant curse for the Roar this season and Puckett was hopeful versatile defender Justin Smith would return at the back end of next season after sustaining an ACL injury this campaign.

‘‘He can play anywhere across the backline and if we need him to he can also play as a winger. He will hopefully get back with four to six games before finals next season if all his rehab goes well,’’ he said.

Due to injuries, several of the Roar’s younger squad members had the chance to impress and Puckett said he was expecting several of those players to take another step forward next season.

‘‘Josh Koopman has the ability and probably the most potential, but I think he needs to realise that himself more so. His timing of tackles and reading of the game is exceptional and can set up attacks from defence,’’ he said.

‘‘Will Seabrook finished second in our best and fairest count and for me he just got better and better throughout the year and if he can start next season like he finished this one, he will go onto great things.’’

Puckett said the club was hopeful of retaining one of its most prized assets in young goalkeeper Zac McLeod, who was considering plying his trade in the Goulburn Valley youth league next season.

He said while he did not plan to introduce so many young players into the fold this season, the experience they gained from playing senior football would have a lasting effect on their development.

‘‘The actual senior football experience is huge in my opinion,’’ he said.

‘‘You can teach kids repetition and technique all day long and they do become better footballers because of it, but when you put them in a senior game when the results really do matter, they begin to pick up little game management skills and they start to become men even though they’re only 16, 17 or 18.’’

Although Cobram’s 2018 campaign did not go according to plan, Puckett is of the belief his side has the foundations in place to quickly climb the AWFA ladder next season.

‘‘I think our defence was pretty solid last year, we just lacked a creating edge at certain times,’’ he said.

He said the club’s preseason officially kicked off a month ago and he was hopeful the Roar would be able to unveil new signings in the coming weeks.