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Recruits, youngsters to make impact

Matt Burgan  December 30, 2015 9:45 AM

AFL 2015 Training - Melbourne 201115

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 20: Tomas Bugg of the Demons in action during the Melbourne Demons training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne on November 20, 2015. (Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

MATT Burgan catches up with senior coach Paul Roos in the third of a four part Q&A series on melbournefc.com.au …

MB: It’s been another big off-season with the trade period. How did you see it from an industry point of view?

PR: It’s interesting isn’t it? And it’s probably getting a little bit more sophisticated. Free agency has changed it and academies have changed it. I’ve never been a fan of free agency and never will be, because it’s always been a free market. You see it now – players don’t have to be at a club for eight or 10 years. They come and go as they please. They’ve got all the power, so the only way to make free agency really relevant is similar to the American models, where you are contracted and prior to free agency, clubs can trade you to anywhere you want to, but that’s not what’s going to happen. Free agency is a way for the top clubs to stay up there, and trading and being smart about what you’re trying to do is a way for the bottom six clubs to try and improve, because it’s hard to do it just through the draft now with free agency.

MB: The club gained three players with AFL experience in the trade period. Can you talk about why they were specifically targeted, starting with Jake Melksham?

PR: One thing we wanted was versatility, depth and quality. Good teams have quality mids, half backs and half forwards going through roles. The relationship between Melksham and Goody (Goodwin) was really important. I was a massive fan of him when he was a kid. I was coaching the Swans at the time when we had pick No.6 and No.14 and we got [Gary] Rohan and [Lewis] Jetta [respectively]. But I remember Melksham’s finals series and I’ve been a big fan of him as well. We think he can be a really good half-back, but also play those traditional roles, which he’s done.

MB: Tomas Bugg was recruited from GWS.

PR: Bugg’s a kid who has been a bit behind some of the elite superstars up there [at GWS], but he’s played on [Dan] Hannebery and [Travis] Boak, and he’s played half-back and he’s played forward. We see multiple roles for him and he’s a really good runner. He really wants to be a good footballer.

MB: And Ben Kennedy was gained from Collingwood.

PR: Kennedy is similar to Bugg. He hasn’t had an opportunity behind some really good players like [Dayne] Beams, [Scott] Pendlebury and [Dane] Swan, and now [Adam] Treloar and [James] Aish has come in, plus last year [Jack] Crisp and [Levi] Greenwood came in. But Kennedy is tough, hard and competitive. We talk about putting together a competitive team – they’re all competitors.

MB: There are a host of players we could talk about, but I’ll give you three players that supporters love to talk about and how you assessed their season and what you’re expecting for 2016. I’ll start with Jack Viney.

PR: I was really pleased with Jack. There was a big transformation, particularly from an attitude point of view. He’s a really driven young man and one of the things that he struggled with was listening. He really wanted to get ahead really quickly. But there has been a really big change and he’s acknowledged it and he’s transformed his game and he became our most coachable player and our best listener. He transformed his game and probably become the most trusted player in the team in 2015. He had a terrific season, so full credit to him. He made a decision and made a change and the club was better for it and he was better for it. He finished second by one vote and missed six games, so it just shows you what a terrific season he’s had. If he keeps that attitude, which I’m sure he will, he’s going to be a very good player.

MB: Christian Petracca?

PR: Christian had a tough year, because he didn’t play. But one thing we said to him was that it might’ve been good for him, because there is a lot of pressure on young kids, particularly early draft picks. He’s been really diligent. He went overseas and loved that and came back in really good shape and I think everyone is really excited, but we can’t put too much pressure on him. He’s coming back from a knee reconstruction, but he’s a big body and a year older. He’s been able to watch a lot of footy and he’s been working closely with Jack Trengove. Trenners was terrific in going through some vision with him.

MB: And Jesse Hogan?

PR: Jesse had a terrific season. I hadn’t seen much of play and no one had. I wasn’t here when he was playing for Casey. But he’s a bit like Jack [Viney], if he listens and learns, as he’s a competitor and athlete, then hopefully he’ll continue to improve and that’s the goal for all of our players.