Allied Pickfords Preview: Western Magpies

Can the defending premiers back up in 2013?

New Western Magpies senior coach, Craig St John, is not fazed by the challenge of taking last year’s premiers into  the 2013 Allied Pickfords Cup.

St John said that while the thought of finals had crossed his mind, there are plenty of factors that contribute to success in September.

“[The premiership] is always on the back of your mind. We’ve just got to be in the top four running into finals and then anything can happen,” he said.

The retirement of captain Chris Mihalopolous leaves a major void in the side, but St John believes new co-captains, Gerard Moore and Lachie Woods are ready take on a new challenge.

“(Mihalopolous) has been captain for the last nine years, so it’s a large hole to fill just in terms of his leadership qualities,” St John said.

“(Gerard and Lachie) have really stepped up to the role.”

Despite the success of last year, St John said there was always room to improve and the club was striving to improve by 25 per cent in this coming season.

“We run similar lines but we’ve tweaked a little bit. We want to improve by 20-25% in a few different areas and we’re concentrating on those,” he said.

One of his priorities is making the team more aggressive in contested situations, to give them an edge in games.

The Magpies have some young stars coming through the ranks, who St John said, could be in for big seasons this year.

The progress of Sherwood juniors, Brady Allen and Jake Heard, could see them crack the senior side this season, something that St John is very happy about.

“Both have been in rep teams leading up to under-18. It’s pleasing our development program is working,” he  said.

St John said the players are just as hungry as ever going into the season, so no one should expect a premiership hangover from the Magpies.

“They’re always keen to have a game of football,” St John said.

“As the day grows closer/nearer you can see the tempo picking up.”

The Magpies open their premiership defence against Mayne at Chelmer on April 20.

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