The Launceston Football Club has today announced that Mitch Thorp will undertake the role as senior coach for the 2019 Bupa Tasmanian State League season.
Thorp, the 2018 Hudson Medallist as the competition’s leading goalkicker, will perform the role as a playing-coach, filling the void left by former coach Sam Lonergan, who accepted the head coaching role at SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens.
Thorp made the move to Windsor Park after a three-year coaching stint at Devonport, playing a key role in the Blues’ campaign.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to coach at such a historic football club,” Thorp, 29, said.
“The coaching group we have assembled has a fantastic balance of “the old” – past premiership players at the Launceston Football Club in Tim Bristow (playing assistant) and Chris Savage along with Life Member Darrin Geard, and “the new” TSL premierships players Daniel Trevena, Jay Blackberry and Cam Downie.”
Savage, a co-captain in 2017 and 2011 Tassie Medal winner Bristow will add plenty to the coaching stocks, with Thorp confident that the Blues are in a strong position on and off the field.
“We have also been fortunate to obtain the services of Ben Killalea as our high performance coach, with Ben set to look after all of our strength & conditioning requirements at the club.
“The coaching group is fully aware that we have plenty of work to do moving forward, however we’re optimistic that with the right attitudes we can build the foundation for sustained success for years to come,” he said.
Club president Sandra Boland insists that Thorp is the right person for the job.
“Mitch offered an engaging presentation to an impartial panel to prove successful in this process. Mitch has extensive experience including AFL draft pick for Hawthorn, SANFL, Tassie Devils, previous TSL coaching and playing experience and a TSL premiership as coach,” she said.
“We are excited to have Mitch step up into the role. He played with Launceston this past season and is ready to move back into a coaching role. He is already engaging with players for both retention and recruitment and has commenced putting together his support team to coach for 2019.
“Mitch’s knowledge and enthusiasm, we believe will help the club in its success for the next 2 seasons.”
The Launceston Football Club will be on the lookout for a new coach ahead of the 2019 Bupa Tasmanian State League season, with Sam Lonergan confirming his move to South Australia.
Lonergan, 31, will take on the role as head coach of SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens after a two-year stint at Windsor Park.
Lonergan came back to his home state following an 81-game AFL career at Essendon and Richmond and a stint as a player and midfield coach at SANFL club Glenelg.
Lonergan’s return in 2017 saw him steer the Blues to two successive TSL finals campaigns, with his side finishing the 2018 season in third spot before being knocked out in straight sets.
The former Launceston boss will take the reigns after Michael Godden’s nine-year stint at the helm of the Eagles, with Godden taking on an assistant coach role with Adelaide.
Speaking to the Mercury newspaper, Launceston president Sandra Boland insisted the club had no grievance with Lonergan making the move and that plans will immediately be put in place for his replacement.
“The personal interest Sam had for the club meant he gave his heart to us and has left the club in a successful position,” Boland said.
“We had a board meeting and threw ideas around about what type of person we want,” Boland said. “If they are from inside the club, an external person or even from another state that’s something we’ll look at during our selection process.”
An ankle injury to returning Launceston coach Sam Lonergan has soured another comprehensive Blues victory on Saturday at Windsor Park, writes TSL Digital Reporter Mitch Stagg.
The home side completely dismantled the hapless Tigers, eventually running out 91-point victors, 17.11 (113) to 3.4 (22) after leading at every change.
Lonergan made a promising start to his first outing of 2018, kicking the opening goal of the match inside 60 seconds, before rolling his ankle in a marking contest shortly thereafter. The Blues chief managed to play out the rest of the game, but was clearly hampered by the issue and remains in serious doubt for their huge clash with southern powerhouse, Glenorchy next week.
Lonergan had previously been sidelined by a nagging hamstring complaint and this latest ankle injury further compounds his frustrating start to the season. Assistant coach, Deb Reynolds was bullish on Lonergan’s prospects post match, but stopped short of guaranteeing his selection against the Magpies.
“He might be a little bit sore now, but we will see as the week progresses as to whether he gets up for next week’s game, but everything is favourable at the moment.” Reynolds said.
The injury to Lonergan was the only blemish in another powerful display by the Blues, who now sit on top of the TSL ladder.
Key forward Mitch Thorp put in another imposing performance, finishing with eight goals to take his season tally to 24 majors as he further stamps himself as the competition’s leading forward target. Reynolds and fellow assistant coach Chris Hills paid tribute to Thorp, but also lauded the work of the Blues around the ground, heaping special praise on rising star Jack Rushton.
“Mitch is coming along really well and gives us a main target up forward. If he can’t pull it down, he puts it to ground for the likes of Jack Ruston at his feet to finish it off, which is really pleasing.” Reynolds said
“Jack is really maturing and his pressure around the ball is unrivalled at the moment within our group and he is just creating opportunities through pressure.” Hills said.
The Blues kicked the opening five goals of the contest, exerting immense pressure on their southern counterparts, who were unable to withstand the onslaught. Edward Burrows-Cheng goaled late for the Tigers to stem the tide, but the Blues entered the first break with a 25-point advantage.
The second term was all one way traffic, as the Blues midfielders in Jay Blackberry, Jack Donnellan, Jake Hinds and Jake Smith capitalised on Hamish Leedham’s work in the ruck, giving their forwards plenty of opportunities to hit the scoreboard. Thorp kicked three goals in succession inside the first 10 minutes of the quarter and Jack Rushton harassed the Tigers defenders to lock the ball inside 50, as the Blues took an unassailable 56-point lead into the main break.
The Tigers started the third quarter in promising fashion, using the corridor to greater effect and disposing of the static ball movement that plagued them in the opening half. Blake Grant kicked the opening goal for the home side, but Dylan Riley and the collective Blues defence was able to contain the Tigers’ early momentum. Launceston kicked the final three goals of the quarter, with young Mariner Jamieson House (two goals) enjoying a purple patch in his first match in blue and white, as the margin extended to 69 points going into the final stanza.
Launceston would eventually run out 91-point winners, holding the Tigers to a solitary goal in the second half, as Mitch Thorp completed his day with three final term majors. In a bleak day for the visitors, Blake McCulloch, Ryan Matthews and Blake Grant toiled hard, while star midfielder Will Campbell faded after a strong opening half.
Tigers coach Trent Baumeler labelled his side’s performance as their worst of the season, but praised a professional and clinical Launceston outfit.
“It was probably our worst performance of the year to be honest, in terms of our ball movement, but also our inability to take Launceston’s game away from them.
“We had a defensive plan in place which couldn’t really execute, which is full credit to them. I think I might have mentioned in Thursday’s presser that they’re a pretty tough nut to crack and that proved to be the case today.” Coach Baumeler said.
The Tigers woes were further exacerbated by a hamstring injury to Ashley Humphrey, who looks set to miss a number of weeks, while Luke Graham will be monitored throughout the week after badly dislocating a finger late in the match.
Former Carlton defender Marcus Davies will also miss again for the Tigers, succumbing to a PCL injury in a further blow to their chances against a resurgent Clarence in round seven.
“He’s not running yet, but I would expect him probably not next week against Clarence, but probably the week after to be really pushing (for selection).” Coach Baumeler said.
Launceston could be further bolstered for this week’s clash against Glenorchy, with veteran forward Sonny Whiting kicking ten goals in the Mercury Cup on the comeback from injury.
“We have a pretty deep list and we have an expectation around the club that if you have an injury you work your way back through the D-League and Sonny has done that. He (Whiting) put a score on the board and played quite well, so he will push for selection again.” Assistant Coach Reynolds said.
Despite years of experience as a footballer, coach and leader, Launceston forward Mitch Thorp is thriving within his new role at Windsor Park.
Thorp, who coached Devonport for three seasons, took South Launceston to a TSL premiership as a playing-coach in 2013, but made the move away from coaching after the 2017 season to join the Blues.
The former Hawthorn player’s decision to move away from coaching has already reaped benefits on the field, with Thorp playing a key role in Launceston’s strong start to the 2018 Bupa Tasmanian State League season as he relishes the opportunity to play freely without the added responsibility of coaching for a short while.
“Part of the reason I ended up going to Launceston was to have 12 months away from coaching and to enjoy playing and that is certainly what has happened so far.
“I have been relatively consistent with my approach to football and I’m just a little more relaxed leading into game when I don’t have to worry about the opposition and teammates as much – it’s been really enjoyable,” Thorp said.
Thorp has kicked 12 goals across the opening three games of the season to sit atop the Peter Hudson Medal tally, with his nine-goal haul against North Hobart backed up by a two-goal effort against Lauderdale.
Launceston were impressive against Lauderdale, leading at every break to record an emphatic 62-point win on the road, with the win particularly satisfying for Thorp, who went into the clash without fond memories of playing at the home of the Southern Bombers.
“From a personal perspective I’m relieved. I’ve played a lot of footy at Lauderdale and had never won a game there.
Even when South Launceston were pretty successful we never beat them. To record my first win at Lauderdale was nice,” Thorp said.
Despite not holding the official title of captain or coach, Thorp is using his vast football experience to the benefit of the group, and his role as a player to the benefit of his coaching.
“I’m a 29-year-old and one of the older guys at the club, so I am still very much a leader for the young guys.
“I have really enjoyed playing under Sam (Lonergan) and I have coached for six years in my own right. It’s probably a blessing in disguise to go back as a player, play under someone else’s leadership and take things on board for my own coaching,” he said.
Thorp made the move to Launceston alongside fellow Devonport star Dylan Riley, with the two immediately slotting into a star-studded side that features the likes of Sonny Whiting, Jay Blackberry, Rulla Kelly-Mansell, Brodie Palfreyman and others.
“It has only been a small sample size so far but it is always pretty handy when you have a strong midfield. It’s pretty easy as a forward sometimes when they are hitting you up with that sort of delivery,” he said.
Launceston were considered by many in the preseason as one of the teams to beat, and although the Blues went down to reigning premiers and cross-town rival North Launceston in round one, the side has responded with strong wins over North Hobart and Lauderdale to go into the round four bye with a 2-1 record.
“A lot of hard work and planning went into our preseason. We are a pretty fit side and finished the game against Lauderdale strongly.
“North Launceston are the yardstick. We came up a bit short in round one but have bounced relatively well since then. I think all teams are still chasing North Launceston though,” Thorp said.
Launceston will travel to Blundstone Arena to play Clarence in round five after the bye, before hosting the Tigers, Glenorchy and North Launceston at Windsor Park in what looms as a season-defining period for the premiership fancy.
Seventh Heaven For Thorp In Commanding Blues Victory
Written by Mitch Stagg. Featured Image: Paul Scambler, The Examiner.
Launceston registered its first win of the season with a convincing 131-point victory over an outclassed North Hobart oufit in idyllic conditions at Windsor Park.
The Blues kicked 21.21.147 to the Demons 2.4.16; with star recruit Mitch Thorp kicking seven goals in an imposing performance for the home side.
The former Devonport and South Launceston coach took full advantage of the Blues midfield dominance, as the Demons defenders struggled to contain his aerial prowess. Blues coach Sam Lonergan was thrilled with Thorp’s performance, after the big man was well held against a disciplined North Launceston in their opening round clash last week.
“It was exciting to see a key forward moving that well in the navy blue again and to see Mitch take that role and make it his own and the result was seven goals and eight behinds.” Coach Lonergan said.
Thorp also relieved Blues co-captain Hamish Leedham in the ruck at stages, displaying his versatility and experience, in a move that is set to continue for the rest of the season.
“Mitch is enjoying it and it gives him an opportunity to use his aerobic capacity to move up and down the ground and it’s a good advantage for us to have.” Lonergan said.
The Blues started slowly in the encounter, failing to capitalize on a litany of forward entries. The Demons enjoyed a strong 10-minute patch midway through the term, but the Blues defence held firm through Jimmy Aganas, Dylan Riley and Joe Boyce as they entered the first change with a 17 point advantage.
In the second term, the Blues midfielders began to flex their muscle, as Jack Donnellan, Brodie Palfreyman and 100 gamer Sam Rundle propelled the ball forward from the stoppages. Sonny Whiting began to find his groove and kicked the first two goals of the quarter, combing with Thorp to give the Blues a 40-point lead at the main break.
The second half was all one-way traffic, as Jay Blackberry imposed himself on the contest, benefiting from some silver service from Hamish Leedham in the ruck. The silky left footer combined with Jake Smith and Rulla Kelly-Mansell to dismantle a hapless Demons defence, who were rendered powerless to stop their pinpoint delivery into the forward 50.
In addition to Thorp’s bag of seven, Whiting would finish with four majors of his own, responding strongly after a quiet performance in round one.
“He (Whiting) got plenty of shots on goal and it was great to see him at his best and being that elusive small forward.” Lonergan said.
The Demons could only muster a solitary behind after half time and Coach Richard Robinson conceded that his young side struggled to contain the experience of a clinical Blues outfit.
“We mentioned that players like Mitch Thorp, Sonny Whiting and Jay Blackberry have been really good senior footballers for many years and they have been good players through their hard work.
“We just have to make sure that our players keep doing the extras, keep sticking together and get the right habits that are going to make them good TSL footballers.” Coach Robinson said.
In a dark day for the Demons, promising teenagers William Peppin and Jacques Barwick were their sole goal kickers for the match, but Robinson remained committed to providing his young players with senior opportunities.
“I think I have got to keep sticking with the current group. We are on a long journey together and it is going to take time. I will keep putting games into these players because I think we have got a bright future.” Robinson said.
Lonergan was noncommittal about his chances of returning to the side next week, after gaining valuable match fitness in the Development league upon return for a hamstring strain. Boom recruit Jobi Harper also got through his first match as a Blue at the lower level, as they look towards a clash against Lauderdale away next week.
“For the both of us it’s about getting in Monday and checking with the physio and making sure that we tick the boxes that they require us to tick. From that perspective, we fall into line with the rest of the playing group.
“It’s our time to play through the development league and make sure our bodies are right to play senior footy and if they’re we will be selected and if they’re not, we won’t be.” Coach Lonergan said.
The Demons will need to regroup quickly, as they face southern rival Clarence fresh off the bye in round three.
Jobi Harper will make his long-awaited return to football in Launceston’s round two Merucry Cup clash with North Hobart this Saturday at Windsor Park.
Harper has thrilled Tasmanian football fans over the years, representing the state and winning the Darrel Baldock medal in a victorious 2013 TSL grand final appearance for South Launceston.
Harper has been out of action for a long period of time, however, missing the entire 2017 season after having to undergo an ankle reconstruction.
Harper has had successful stints around the north of the state being a key player for South Launceston, the Western Storm and most recently the Burnie Dockers over his career, and will add plenty to Launceston’s midfield group as such a highly regarded player.
Launceston coach Sam Lonergan has pinned a full return to the senior side in the ‘coming weeks’ for Harper.
“All going well he will likely play seniors in the next four weeks and post round 10 we will start to see the best Jobi, as he builds up into a midfield role,” Lonergan said.
Harper had a move to Launceston Football club in the works before Burnie pulled out of the State League, with living in Launceston being the main factor in selecting the Blues as his club of choice.
With such a long absence from football due to injury Harper will be keen for his return to the playing field.
“Jobi will play about 60 percent of the match,” Lonergan said.
Launceston will face North Hobart in both Mercury Cup and TSL action on Saturday at Windsor Park, with the Demons coming off the back of a 56-point Mercury Cup loss to the Tigers in round one.
The Demons will face a daunting prospect of coming up against a strong Launceston outfit, who made the 2017 grand final and demolished North Launceston by 104 points, before even having Harper, the runner-up in the 2015 Alister Lynch Medal, in the side.
With Launceston still having Harper in the Mercury Cup, a raft of talented Mariners players unavailable and Lonergan himself still under an injury cloud, improvement is still to come for Launceston with Lonergan outlining what Harper can add to their senior side.
“Jobi is very competitive and strives to be the best. This mindset will set him up to be a player to watch,” he said.
To see Harper’s return to football you can attend Windsor Park as Launceston host North Hobart in the Mercury Cup from 11:30am before the two sides battle it out in TSL action from 2:00pm.
In anticipation for the start of the 2018 Tasmanian State League season, we take a look at a player from every club that you should keep your eyes on this year.
Club: Launceston Football Club
One of the breakout performers in 2017, Brodie Palfreyman has emerged as one of the state’s finest midfielders and will no doubt be a player to watch in 2018.
Palfreyman was named in Launceston’s best on 10 occasions last season, underlining his consistency and importance as a member of the Blues’ engine room.
With the ability to break clear from stoppages and create space for attacking forays, Palfreyman is a tough midfielder to contain and with Launceston primed for an even bigger 2018, the talented on-baller will play a critical role.
Palfreyman polled 12 votes in the 2017 Alastair Lynch Medal, the most of any Blues player, and with talented utility Dylan Riley and big forward Mitch Thorp making the move from Devonport to Windsor Park, Palfreyman will be part of a Launceston side that on paper, looks as good as any for a chance at a premiership tilt.
Palfreyman, now a leader at the Blues, is a gun, and if he can somehow take his game to another level in 2018, we are all in for a treat.
The Blues will start 2018 with a challenging test against reigning premiers and arch rival North Launceston on Good Friday at UTAS Stadium.
Launcetson have rocketed into premiership conversations after a stunning 2017 finals campaign that saw them upset fancies Glenorchy and Clarence. TSL Digital Media Team reporter Mitch Stagg takes a look at what fans can look out for from one of the off-season’s most buzzed about outfits.
TSL Inception: 2009
TSL Premierships: 1 (2011)
Home Ground: Windsor Park, Riverside
Guernsey Colours: Navy Blue and White
Head Coach: Sam Lonergan
Senior Assistants: Darrin Geard, Deb Reynolds, Chris Hills
Bench Coach: Nathan Warren
Captains: Chris Savage, Hamish Leedham
Rivals: North Launceston
Key Fixtures: Round 1 v North Launceston at UTAS Stadium, Round 3 v Lauderdale at Lauderdale Oval, Round 8 v North Launceston at Windsor Park, Round 11 v Clarence at Windsor Park, Round 21 v Glenorchy at Windsor Park
2017 finish: 5th – lost to Lauderdale in Preliminary Final
Ins: Mitch Thorp (Devonport), Dylan Riley (Devonport), Jack Rushton (East Coast Swans), Jobi Harper (Burnie), Anthony Liberatore (Werribee), Patrick Mackrell (Bridgenorth), Giacomo Millucci (Devonport), Mitch Hodgetts (Werribee)
Outs: Jordan Harris (Evandale), Nathan O’Donoghue (Retired), Connor Smith (Mackay), Zach Griffiths (Bridgenorth), Gareth Holt (South Launceston), Alex Payne (injury)
The Blues started 2017 in promising fashion, comfortably accounting for North Western counterparts Devonport and Burnie in the opening two rounds. Sonny Whiting was particularly dangerous in front of goal, registering 10 majors, including a 7-goal haul against the Dockers.
The Blues did face a stern reality check in round three, however, suffering an 85-point thrashing at the hands of eventual premiers North Launceston. The Blues recovered to record a gritty away win against Lauderdale in round four, on their way to five wins out of their next seven matches.
Three straight losses to competition heavyweights North Launceston, Lauderdale and Clarence followed prior to the bye before a steadying win against the Tigers. The Blues would only record one more win for the regular season, against Devonport in round 19, placing them 5th with a 9-9 record heading into finals.
The business end of the season saw the Blues morph into giant killers, starting with a shock defeat of Glenorchy at Blundstone Arena in the Elimination final. This form continued in the first semi final, running away from Clarence, again at Blundstone Arena, to set up a Preliminary Final contest against Lauderdale. Ultimately, the grueling finals travel schedule took its toll, culminating in a 24-point defeat to the Southern Bombers, but the Blues left an indelible mark on the competition in a sign of what may be to come in season 2018.
Sam Lonergan will again lead the Blues in what many are predicting will be a highly successful season at Windsor Park. Buoyed by the recruitment of former Hawthorn player and Devonport coach Mitch Thorp and leading midfielder-utility Dylan Riley, the Blues have high expectations for the year ahead. The club has retained the bulk of its 2017 playing list but will be without Nathan O’Donoghue (retirement) and Jordan Harris (Evandale).
The senior coaching group have lauded the professional approach shown by the players towards the preseason program, punctuated by strong numbers and a clean bill of health. The club has put a strong focus on support staff to assist the playing group, investing heavily in physio and exercise physiologists on game day and throughout the week. The club is thrilled to welcome Casey Mainsbridge back to the club, who Lonergan says is “highly educated in strength and conditioning.”
Lonergan singled out Ben Killalea as one to watch for 2018 after returning from an injury-marred 2017 campaign with a strong preseason, “he is in fantastic shape and a real surprise packet with his intensity, effort and competitiveness.”
Casey Brown is another player who Lonergan identified, remarking that he had “one of the most gifted athletic profiles of anybody he has ever seen, even at AFL level.”
Development coach Oli Cook, who will look to build on a grand final appearance in the Mercury Cup in 2017, is also excited about the senior prospects of young Sam Bruinewood, a developing tall who has enjoyed a strong preseason. The Blues clinched the Mercury Cup minor premiership in 2017 with an average age of 18.2 years and Cook says there is “plenty of scope for development” heading into 2018.
Launceston will be looking to cement themselves in the upper echelon of the league and secure a double chance in finals and the best possible opportunity for premiership success. In 2017, the Blues struggled to match the competitions leading teams in the regular season, but a meteoric rise in the finals will give them the belief that they can take the next step and contend for the title.
They will have an immediate opportunity to impress, with a huge opening round clash against North Launceston on March 30. Lonergan expects his chargers to build upon the form they displayed in 2017, but identified a gulf in experience in the 24-28 age bracket, which has been a key focus of the clubs recruiting.
Former Devonport player Dylan Riley was singled out by Lonergan as a “class above in the way he reads the play and thinks” off the half back line and through the midfield. Lonergan is also excited about the prospects of fellow Devonport recruit Giacomo Millucci, who kicked five goals in a recent practice match and looked “extremely lively” around the football.
The Blues will have plenty of avenues to goal, with recruit Mitch Thorp joining leading goal kicker Sonny Whiting and the enigmatic Rulla Kelly-Mansell in an imposing forward set up. The onus will be on the clubs leading ball winners to give their forwards the supply they need to kick a winning score, with Lonergan eager to see his potent forward mix make the most of their entries and “own a game of football.”
Launceston will have a good mix of youth and experience in their leadership ranks, with Hamish Leedham and Chris Savage anointed as co-captains for 2018. Lonergan praised Leedham as a “natural leader,” who will contrast the experience of Savage, who he says “really demands and drives from the front and has a lot of life and football experience” to call upon. Lonergan is also keen to tap into the knowledge of new assistant coach, Deb Reynolds, singling out her “attention to detail” and her dedication to training and working with players.
Draft onlookers will be keen to see how Chayce Jones handles the expectation in his draft year. The AFL Academy member is one of the state’s leading draft hopefuls and the club is optimistic that he can get a clean run of football after an injury interrupted 2017 season. The talented midfielder is a composed user of the ball on both feet and the Blues will look to use this area of his game to add to their ball movement.
2016 Review- Launceston finished 8th in the regular season last year, winning only four of their home and away games and losing the other fourteen. Making it the third year in a row that Launceston did not qualify for the finals.
Leading Goal Kicker 2016- Sonny Whiting (34 Goals)
McAuley Medal Winner 2016 (Best and Fairest)- Joe Groenewegen
Player gains and losses
Ben Killalea (From Deloraine)
Kurt McCabe (retired)
Stewart Williams (From Wodonga Raiders)
Grant Holt (From Prospect)
Gareth Holt (From Prospect)
Mitch Hutchinson (From Lindisfarne Nu-Jet Blues)
Joseph Bangura (From Hobart City)
Lachlan Gee (From Prospect Hawks)
Bayley Neil (From Bracknell FC.)
2017 will see the highly anticipated return of playing Coach Sam Lonergan take over the reins at Windsor Park. After last season ruled out for Lonergan, he is now ‘eager and excited’ to get back involved with his former club and lead them back to the top of the Tasmanian State League.
The last three seasons have been hard going for the blues as they have disappointingly missed out on the finals. The departures of last season’s best and fairest Joseph Groenewegen and club legend Kurt McCabe won’t help their case in climbing the table, however things are broadly looking up for the blues as they have had strong numbers on the track, including some fresh faces and are in a really solid and positive position as a club according to their excited coach. With plenty of youth and Lonergan’s AFL experience, be sure to keep an eye on the boys from Windsor Park, as with a capable and experienced player/coach in their ranks. It would seem that Launceston could be a wild card this season and should certainly press for a position in the finals series.
Look out for Launceston’s clashes with arch rivals North Launceston in round 3, 12 and 21 as these are sure to be full of fire and passion for the title of the best team in North.
Aim for the Season- “To improve on our recent seasons performances and hopefully challenge for a spot in the finals series.”
Where do you believe the club is positioned– “The club is in a really positive and upward position right now, with a lot of youth and hunger to return back to the finals, I’m sure we can be competitive this season.”
Who has had a strong preseason? – “Stewart Williams has had a strong preseason and has impressed through his training and will be one to watch this season.”
Who to watch out for this season- Young players Zac Griffiths and Brodie Palfreyman could both have break out seasons. Zac could fill the injured Payne’s shoes in the middle and Palfreyman is a speedy good user of the ball across the backline with the potential to play on the wings and also forward.
How excited are you to be back at your home town club and most importantly back in footy? – “I’m very excited and eager to be stuck back into it and I’m really enjoying it and can’t wait to see what the rest of the season holds ahead for us.”
Tom Couch, son of the late Geelong Brownlow Medallist Paul Couch, is believed to be the frontrunner for the Simon Black Academy coaching position in Launceston and is highly likely to fill a joint role as North Launceston’s next TSL senior coach.
Fairfax Media understands that Couch is one of a shortlist of three candidates left in the race to fill the position left vacant with the move of two-time State League premiership coach Zane Littlejohn to a development role with the Brisbane Lions.
It is believed that two of the remaining candidates are from interstate and one is an internal applicant from this year’s coaching staff.
FRONTRUNNER: Tom Couch, playing VFL football for Richmond during the round two match against Footscray Bulldogs at Punt Road Oval in April. Picture: Getty Images
A 28-year-old, Couch was picked up in the 2011 AFL rookie draft and played three AFL games for Melbourne over two seasons before being delisted at the end of the 2013 season.
An inside midfielder, he has played VFL football with Richmond and Collingwood and was Richmond’s strength and conditioning coach this year.
He won a best and fairest with Melbourne’s VFL affiliate the Casey Scorpions in 2012 and finished runner-up in the Liston Trophy the same year.
Couch has also travelled the world working closely with professional tennis players in preparation for major tennis tournaments such as Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
He has also specialized in AFL junior development for youngsters aspiring to play AFL football and has been a fitness consultant for multiple local football clubs across the country.
It is understood that Couch will fill the Academy coaching role in the North of the state with the Northern Bombers having already stated their preference for the successful applicant to fill a dual role as their senior coach.
North expects to bring the two external candidates to Launceston this week for a tour of the club and further discussions before making a final decision.
The club plans to make an announcement of their new coach by the end of the month.
It is understood Couch has future ambitions to become an AFL coach.