In what has been a perfect start to the season in the wins column, the Casey Demons are sitting up the top of the VFL ladder with an average winning margin of 51 points and having defeated three teams in the top eight.
Due to a break early in the season from COVID in Victoria, Melbourne Media had a quick chat with VFL coach Mark Corrigan about his thoughts on the year so far.
“In a snapshot of the first five rounds, I feel like we’ve played our brand of footy,” he said.
“It has given our players a good understanding of what that looks and feels like and at the same time, we have had periods in the last two games where we haven’t been at our best, and still found a way to win those games.
“The buy-in from the playing group has been fantastic, which has been the catalyst for our last two wins, with the players’ effort, endeavour and commitment to keep on playing until the very end.
“The first three weeks we played a really strong brand of football, playing a dominant four quarters in all three games, however, it’s been great in the last two matches to be challenged and find the response necessary.”
The Demons have had some brilliant performances in their first five rounds with Corrigan seeing the uniqueness in each of them.
“If you’re talking about pure performance, you cannot go past round one or two against Box Hill and Richmond who are both quality oppositions,” he said.
“I felt like our ability to execute what we were trying to do for four quarters was strong against those teams.
“In terms of tangibles and what you learn about yourself, that would have to come down to the Geelong performance.
Casey has been able to rely on some great individual performances from both Melbourne AFL listed players and VFL players, who continually drive the standards by leading the way in playing the Casey - Melbourne brand of footy.
“Our backline with Neville Jetta and Jake Bowey has been standing up every week, and really consistent in what they deliver which is really fantastic,” Corrigan said.
“From a midfield point of view, you can’t go past Jimmy Munro in terms of what he delivers week in and week out.
“Jimmy’s been extremely consistent and a real barometer for us for the way he plays and his intensity around the ball, he’s been brilliant.
“Kade Chandler and Toby Bedford have set the trend for us ahead of the ball. These guys are our small forwards but play with such height and speed and just do it at both ends offensively and defensively.
“Some of our younger boys also have been very consistent from a VFL standpoint - Zac Foot, George Grey, Ryan Spark and Corey Ellison have played most games if not all.
“Those boys are only 19 years old themselves and have been able to step up and play at VFL level but contribute really well to the side.”
Whilst Victoria has been battling with another COVID outbreak, it has still been all systems go with training conducted via any means possible.
“There have been some challenges with that aspect,” Corrigan said.
“Earlier on in the lockdown, we had zoom meetings on Tuesday and Thursday to keep the players mentally engaged from a football perspective.
“They also have their physical programs and we’ve spoken to the players about how important they are.
“If we had got a green light to come back and play there wasn’t going to be time to re-integrate blokes, making their attention to the details in their programs paramount for when we restart.
“For us as a coaching group, it’s important that they are both physically and mentally ready to play. It has also been an opportunity to reset and work through how we have gone as a coaching group in the first five weeks and how we can be better.”
With the return of VFL football this week, the Demons will still not be taking the field due to a scheduled bye in line with the AFL side. Next week, however, Casey will take on Corrigan’s former club in Essendon.
“The Bombers are quite young (side), however, in saying that, they had a really good win against Carlton a few weeks ago,” he said.
“Young teams be quite brave and fearless, and when I watched that game that’s what it looked like.
“They (Essendon) can win their fair share of the ball around the contest and can surge pretty hard at you, so for us, it will be taking that away and not giving them those opportunities.
“Regardless of who we play in our next game, we will make sure we are ready to go.”