Barlow happy with start

Michael Barlow in action. Picture Belinda Vitacca

Tara Murray

It has been an overwhelmingly positive start to Michael Barlow’s coaching career at Werribee.

After dropping its first two matches, Werribee took the points in its last three matches to get the momentum going.

While that has been halted due to a COVID-19 lockdown, Barlow and his team continue to work hard behind the scenes.

Barlow said this season had been a learning curve for himself.

“It’s consuming, but very satisfying,” he said.

“The way I like to coach is that I take the win-loss out of it as much as I can. You can’t be dictated by wins and losses.

“It’s never as bad or good as it seems. The last month has been a bit of a road block and in the modern world you can’t take anything for granted.

“We probably anticipated this was a possibility.

“In terms of what we’ve done from a playing stand point, moulding the squad, new coaching dynamic, it’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

Barlow, who was a playing assistant coach with the club the last two seasons, said the group had started to put together some really good results on field.

He said the standout thing for him with the group had been the effort they put into not only games, but training as well.

“They are a group I haven’t got angry at essentially,” he said.

“We lost our first two games and in terms of effort the players put in, it was unquestionable. We nearly gassed ourselves from trying too hard.

“You literally look at them at the end of the game and you’re in awe of the effort they have given, but are a little bit frustrated with some of the method and execution.

“That all comes down to the continuity of training and playing together.”

Barlow said looking at their key performance indicators this season, they were pretty similar to what they did in 2019, when the club played finals.

He said there had been plenty of standouts for the side this season, with the club using just 27 players in the first five rounds.

Kye Declase, who was picked up by Melbourne in the mid season rookie draft, tops the list.

“We’ve been pretty lucky in terms of availability. The 27 players we’ve used indicates that we haven’t had to make too many changes, just forced ones, so that indicated that everyone is doing well.

“I think there is six or seven guys who I think have AFL attributes and are in really good form like Bior Malul Nathan Cooper and Matt Hanson.”

Barlow said he had been impressed by the likes of Jesse Clark, Lucas Rocci, Keegan Gray and Hudson Garoni who have got opportunities due to having to have a number of players aged 22 and under in the side.

“They are now genuine best 22 players.”

Werribee is hoping to return to the field this week having returned to training on Saturday. It will be another challenge for them, with the clubs interstate still playing throughout that period and the AFL-listed players being able to train the whole time.

“We draw on that as a point of difference,” Barlow said. “It can be perceived as a point of disadvantage but we like to think we have a hard edge and blue collar operation.

“We embraced that.”