Ahead of this weekend’s big clash between the Tigers and Blues at the Twin Ovals, we get the thoughts of Launceston coach Mitch Thorp on the tantalising midfield battle that awaits, the return of Dylan Riley and more.
Last weekend’s win over Clarence in the wet was probably a different sort of game to get a read on due to the conditions. You must have been pleased with the result and to go 6-5 for the season?
“I was pleased with the effort.
“Any day you roll up to a game and there has been 20mm of rain fallen on the ground it is going to be an effort-based game with plenty of stoppages.
“We looked to surge the ball forward as much as we could and Jobi Harper led by example in and around the footy. The boys stuck at it for probably three and a half quarters – we probably dropped away a little bit late in the game – but we had put a big enough gap in it to make it a good win.
“We are a working class side that wants to keep our head down and bum up and continue improving as the season goes on.”
Jobi’s performance was dominant in the wet. The midfield efforts of Harper, Fletcher Seymour, Brodie Palfreyman and co. will be crucial in this weekend’s meeting with the Tigers?
“I have obviously coached Jobi before and my expectations of him are extremely high, so he certainly led by example and the weekend just gone was no exception.
“To have Timmy Bristow back for this weekend’s game against the Tigers gives us another layer through there – he’s really important.
“Bristow is our oldest midfielder but our most experienced and holds the boys accountable, so it’s pleasing to have him back out there along with Jay Blackberry, Brodie Palfreyman, Jobi Harper and Fletcher Seymour.
“The midfield is where it’s won or lost and I have no doubt that it will be an intriguing battle in there this week.”
Teams have appeared to struggle curbing the influence of Kieran Lovell this season. Do you have specific plans in place to try and tag him out of the contest?
“We have done a little bit of tagging this year and the first time we played the Tigers we didn’t tag Kieran and he obviously got a lot of the ball and had a pretty dominant game.
“Kieran was enormous when we last met so we will need to keep a close eye on how damaging he is around the contest. We will need to be wary of their whole midfield, however, and not just Kieran, despite him being one of the best midfielders in the competition.
“We have no doubt that it is going to be a big challenge in there this weekend. Lachie Clifford is a very underrated midfielder and accumulates a lot of the footy. We respect their midfield enormously.”
How big of a boost is the mid-season return of Dylan Riley to your side?
“It’s no secret that Dylan and I have a very strong friendship. I’ve coached him for a number of years so to have him back in the team is really important for us given the age demographic he is in at 26 years old.
“We are quite a young group and have a few older guys like myself and Timmy (Bristow), so we need a few more around the 24-26 age bracket, which he fits nicely. He’s obviously extremely dangerous around goal and we will also look to get him in around the midfield as well where he has won some state league best and fairests.
“It was his first TSL game back for the year against Clarence, so we will watch his loads and he will certainly start by playing close to goal.
“He’s a dangerous forward and can catch it above his head and is equally dangerous and cat-like when the ball hits the ground. I enjoy playing with him in the forward line and I don’t think that will change for the first couple of weeks. As he gets a few games under his belt we will use him as a midfielder as he has that speed we are after.
Jay Blackberry looks to be hitting his straps now after an extended period back in the senior side. How have you seen his comeback from injury?
“Jay is another player I have coached for a few years and expectations of him are extremely high.
“He is our other captain alongside Jobi, and has been playing as a forward in recent weeks and kicking his two or three each game to give us another avenue to goal.
“His movement is getting better each week and he continues to look more comfortable and confident. He is another player we will look to give more midfield time to as we continue to try and build that depth through the midfield.