Coach Post Match – Todd Curley First Semi-Final

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 1:08 PM by Chris Pike

WHAT South Fremantle coach Todd Curley had to say after the Bulldogs' 80-point first semi-final win against Swan Districts and looking ahead to this Sunday's WAFL preliminary final against Subiaco at Leederville with a place in the Grand Final against Peel Thunder at stake.
QUESTION: You always knew Swan Districts would throw everything at you early but to withstand that and kick away from the second quarter onwards must have been pleasing with your season on the line?
I thought the first quarter was pretty even but we were pretty good around the ball and with the ball, but just maybe didn’t defend as well as maybe would have liked. But after quarter-time we had shots on goal and kicked 17 goals to three with a couple of men down for a long time. I thought it was a pretty courageous win.

Q: It started in the middle too and it was that contested ball area that you were disappointed with against Peel, but you won a lot of the hard footy?
That was really pleasing and I thought after quarter-time we really lifted in there. Our forwards work rate was enormous as well and everyone played their role. It was pleasing. 

Q: Massive performance again from Brock Higgins in the ruck and he continues to do it solo and he got the better of the in-form Corey Gault?
I think Higgo has a fair claim to be the in-form ruckman as well. He has been really consistent for us, he gave us first use and I think our mids were all pretty even and certainly impacted the game.

Q: Shane Hockey would have been disappointed with his output last week because hard, contested football is why you recruited him. But he was outstanding this week?
I thought he really led us and especially in the second quarter he got us going. He was important for us but it's no real secret that we play well when we have close to 22 contributors and we were pretty close to getting that.

Q: When you play well, your forward pressure is outstanding and guys like Ben Saunders and Blaine Johnson really led in that area and the guys resulted?
Their work rate is what probably let them down a little bit last week and they certainly moved better and played their role better this week. In the end if you do that, you all tend to chip in on the scoreboard if you just do the team thing and work hard. They created space for each other, competed well and pressured well so it was strong. 

Q: You showed a lot of faith in Zac Strom to play full-back on a dangerous forward in Ricky Cary. It's a role he was doing two years ago before you moved him forward and he showed he can still do it well?
It's a funny one isn’t it when three or four weeks ago he was playing in the reserves and his form had dropped away as a forward and pinch-hit ruck. But he got an opportunity at the last minute and his last three or four games he's come in to play key back and has been really strong for us. It's a great lesson in resilience and it shows you just have to keep coming to do the work because you never know when a chance is going to come, and then when it does come grab it with everything you've got. I think he's been pretty strong.

Q: It's a good thing for your reserves players to see too because you've got Jake Florenca, Jacob Dragovich, Josh Pullman, Jarrod Parry, Brendan Verrier and others who just never know when they might get another chance?
Absolutely. It's fantastic to have that depth and the reserves boys played super this week with a really good, strong brand of footy to move into the Grand Final. We had some guys put up their hand too so we'll have a look at them and go to selection this week and look at what we need against Subi. We'll pick a team that we think gives us the best chance to beat them.

Q: Steve Verrier and Matt Parker were a bit sore during the game, do you expect either to miss the preliminary final?
I think we'll be pretty much OK. Steve Verrier is getting a scan just to see what happened and how he is, but we're hopefully they will all be OK.

Q: The challenge of Subiaco now. They have been the benchmark for a few years and they will be hungry after missing a premiership they might have thought they could have won last year. But I doubt they are any hungrier than you are?
Our blokes are pretty proud as well and were disappointed with how they finished last year at the same stage. We are one-all so far this year and we were pretty good in the first game, and they were really good in the second game. We are looking forward to it.

Q: Now that Subiaco is in front of you this week, how much work on your game plan and style this year has been geared around beating Subiaco at this time of the year?
We haven’t really changed too much about the way we've played, we've just got more mature because we were very young and inexperienced in terms of finals last year. We think we are in pretty good shape physically right now and we've done a lot of work on our entire program to try to make guys not only fit, but available. We've had most blokes available for most of the year both this year and last but we're probably a bit better placed physically going into the prelim this year than last. The great thing about finals footy is that you qualify and then once you get there, it's about who wins on the day and not ladder positions or anything like that. We've had one where we weren’t that great and one where we were pretty good, and now we have to come out to play on Sunday.

Q: Just because you made the preliminary final there were no guarantees you would be back there this year, and it has been a terrific effort to be back there. How motivated are you and the players now to take the chance?
I think everyone is absolutely, that's why you play. You have to do so much work to prepare and win, and so many things have to go right for you to get back there to get that opportunity again. Our group has been really consistent and they've earned the right so we'll get organised, recover, train and look forward to putting our best foot forward.