By: Joseph Arthur
AFTER introducing a new coach and a new captain for its 2019 campaign, Wantirna South has had the perfect start to its season going undefeated through the first three rounds.
The introduction of fresh leaders into the club is paying dividends to this point as the club approaches its Round 4 match-up with the competition’s only other undefeated side, Lilydale.
First-year skipper Luke Williams (pictured above) said that settling into to the role hasn’t been at all challenging and he has relished the opportunity to develop as a leader.
“I’ve loved it, I got offered the role late in the pre-season and I’ve captained before at previous clubs and I thought it would be a good opportunity to expand on my leadership but also try and give something back to all the younger blokes,” Williams said.
“Steve (Cochrane), the new coach, he’s been awesome, made it really easy and everyone’s really bought in to what he’s brought along so it’s been good.”
Williams credited preparation as the catalyst for his side’s hot start, but said he was cautious not to get too carried away, acknowledging that consistency is very hard to maintain early into a footy season.
“We worked bloody hard in the pre-season that’s for sure,” Williams said.
“We just try and play in the moment really, it’s easy to get carried away and think about the end result, but I always just try to play quarter by quarter, contest by contest and as long as you stick to what you’ve been practicing and not getting too carried away, I think you stay in control and have a good chance of winning.
“The consistency for me personally, that’s what I try and aim for.
“For the best players going around it’s the difference between their best game and their worst game that defines what kind of player they are, so that’s what I try and do, I try and just close that gap between the days that you play well and days that you don’t.”
A date with the undefeated Lilydale awaits Williams and his men, but the captain is undeterred by the opposition’s imposing record and is steadfast in his faith in the Devils.
“We’re really happy with our start, we know that they’re a quality opposition but we just try to focus on ourselves, we’ve got our system in place and we know if we can stick to that, we’ve put in those hard yards and it puts us in good stead to continue this streak we’re having,” he said.
“Everyone just comes to play and contribute where they can, so we work hard and we play hard.”
Devils senior coach Steve Cochrane said that he has been impressed with Williams’ “remarkable” leadership.
“He’s just got some really great qualities, off-field and on-field, I identified that pretty early,” Cochrane said.
“He gets around the boys and he’s just got that experience having played at a higher level and he can really develop the younger guys and educate them along the way.”
Cochrane said that although it’s early, his side has the discipline to knock off Lilydale and continue the red-hot form.
“I was quite demanding early on in pre-season showing how important it is to get momentum at the start of the year,” Cochrane said.
“Those early wins mean a lot; I’m really proud how they’ve approached the start of the season.
“No doubt Lilydale, they’re going to be a major contender in this division but we’ll take the same approach as we’ve taken in the first three weeks
“It’ll be a great challenge for us and a great chance for the boy to see where there at.
“We hold no fear about playing them (Lilydale).”
The Devils’ new skipper agreed with his coach’s thoughts, but also said that it’s important he continues to be proactive as the team’s leader.
“I try and just go one week at a time, but it would be nice to knock on the door of finals as every team would want to do but if we can just continue to be consistent to continue to develop our game plan and implement it, that’s what I’d like to see,” Williams said.
“I just try and pass on any knowledge that I have but also try and help develop younger leaders coming through.
“If I can help develop the next stage of leaders at Wantirna South then I’m happy.”