Lions coach vows to get pride back
New Royals coach Andrew Ruck says his club is determined to rediscover its identity but has played down any expectation on his playing group heading into the new season.
Ruck, a former Claremont league ruckman has taken the reins of his original club as only the Lions’ third coach in the past 21 years.
That stability, he believes, will allow him to settle into the role and help the Lions move back up the ladder after finishing fourth in James McRae’s last season in charge.
Since returning in a playing capacity last season and being appointed as coach in October, Ruck said it was important that the Lions reconnect with their past and their identity, which he believes has gone missing since moving to the new Centennial Stadium. “We are a proud club and need to get our identity back,” he said.
“It would be great to get our former Royalies back around the club and make the club a hub on a Friday night where they can take the family down.”
Without a premiership since 2011, Ruck said he was excited about the league squad’s additions, notably former Royal Steven Edwards, who returns from South Fremantle, and Narrogin Hawks captain Jordan Heil.
Edwards played 60 WAFL league games, while Heil represented the Upper Great Southern Football League at the Landmark Country Football Championships and will link up with former Hawks teammate Cameron Allison.
The Lions’ ruck stocks will also be boosted by Donnybrook premiership ruckman Stephen Beal, while Ruck will juggle playing and coaching roles.
The Lions will have to deal with the loss of a number of their talented younger players, including last season’s fairest and best Cent Amores and leading goal kicker Harry Broomhall.
Ruck said new assistant coach Adam Cooper and runner Tom Moir would be valuable additions, while McRae had remained influential in a recruiting capacity.
The 33-year-old said the only expectation was for the club to finish in the top four and play finals.
“We want to be known as a good club who play hard and fair,” Ruck said.
“We want to play a good style of footy, want to show off our natural talent and encourage our talented players to go to Perth.
“We will be playing a similar style of footy across all our grades so when the players transfer through the grades it is seamless.”
The Lions host Mt Barker in round 1 this Saturday.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails