Bulls lift the weight of expectation
New Mt Barker coach Brad Hook believes the weight of expectation to end their long-running premiership drought took its toll on the club last season.
As a previous president and recently assistant coach under Shane Thompson, Hook is certainly no stranger to the club and aims to bring a simple philosophy — enjoyment. “There definitely was pressure and the fun went out of footy,” Hook said in the lead up to round 1.
“I want to bring that enjoyment back and that was one of the reasons I got the role.”
Ten of the Bulls’ best 22 from last season will not feature this season, most notably veteran Nathan Skinner, who has retired after more than 300 league games, while David Stone, the best ruckman in the competition, has gone travelling.
Daniel Dalby and Tyson Sujdovic have retired, the latter staying on as assistant coach, while young wingman Russell Wynne and defender Corey Byrne are gone.
The Bulls have gained some height, with Bullcreek Leeming ruckman Daniel Henderson joining the club and veteran Michael Wright returning to the club after a season with North Albany.
Journeyman Dionne Woods is also set to join the Bulls from Kojonup after also playing for Denmark-Walpole in 2016. But Hook’s focus will be long-term, with the club set to blood youth to ensure their future.
“This year we need those top-up players but the real emphasis with me being a local coach is to get our local players playing,” Hook said.
“For the first time in about a decade we have between eight and 10 players between 17-20 years.”
Four of the Bulls’ most reliable travellers will return, including Sean Plaisted medallist Kym Monteath, veteran midfielder Nic Chidgzey, wingman Ty Miller and rugged full-back Adam Tissott.
“We want to be competitive and our aim is to of course play finals but we need to develop our younger players,” Hook said. “We will be bringing in five players from Perth and there is cap space if we want to go down that path further. They want to win and we want to win.”
In another major leadership change, stalwart Peter Taylor will captain the side, replacing Sam Lehmann after a decade in the role.
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