COACH Paul Roos says he’s not surprised by the improvement of ball-winner Jack Viney this season.
Roos said Viney was hellbent on improving his game and taking it to the next level – as evidenced by his excellent start to the season, which has seen him win 30 disposals or more in the past three matches.
“We saw a real progression in him last year – he jumped up to second in our best and fairest behind Bernie Vince,” he said.
“He’s a really good learner and a really good listener. He’s got good fundamental footy traits and he’s got good speed and endurance.
“We know he’s hard around the footy and the thing we’ve encouraged him to do is to get on the outside a bit more and he’s been able to do that.
“Every time we’ve set him a challenge to improve his game, he seems to be able to do that. It doesn’t surprise me, because he puts so much time and effort into his footy and he’s a really good role model for [Christian] Petracca, [Angus] Brayshaw, [Clayton] Oliver and all of our young guys.
“Hopefully they can follow on, in terms of the way they apply themselves and the way they listen to the coaches, as he’s a really good example of that.”
Roos said he had no problem with what Viney said in the lead-up to last round’s clash against St Kilda, when he spoke publicly about wanting to play finals this year.
“Jack’s excited and he plays for finals. I don’t think it was necessary a reflection of where we are as a group,” he said.
“I think you’ve got to give these guys a bit of leeway, because they’re young and they want to play finals – and that’s what they’re here to do. They’re answering direct questions from you guys (the media) and they’re just trying to answer them honestly.
“I said after the Essendon game that maybe we did get a little bit ahead of ourselves, but not on the weekend [against St Kilda] – we were beaten by a better team on the weekend. We had effort, but there were a lot of reasons why we didn’t play well.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s clash against the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium, Roos said he was “not sure” if Clayton Oliver would return, after being rested in round five and resuming via the VFL last Sunday against Essendon at Windy Hill.
“I watched him live on the weekend [for Casey] and he did the things that we know he can do,” he said.
“We had a poor performance in the seniors, so he’s a chance to come back in.”
Meanwhile, Roos said Gold Coast champion Gary Ablett remained a concern for his side, but so did its improved midfield. Still, he was adamant his team needed to focus on its own game.
“Gary’s a fantastic player and we want our team to be a good tackling team and contested ball team, so it’s not really about Gary – it’s about how we want to perform as a unit,” he said.
“We’re trying to create less reliance on Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince.
“If you have a collective improvement and I’m sure [Gold Coast’s] Rocket’s (Rodney Eade) looking for that with his players, then you tend to find the stars are always the stars, but they don’t get as much of the ball, because the other guys are joining in.
“What I do know is that he’s a pretty good player, so he’s always a concern when you play against Gold Coast.”