Morningside unfazed by favourites tag

By Beth Newman

Being tagged early QAFL favourites means nothing to Morningside, according to new senior coach, David Lake.

Many are expecting the Panthers to finish at the top end of the competition, but Lake said the side wouldn’t be affected by external opinions.

“Most footy clubs stand in the middle and look out. Morningside doesn’t care,” he said.

“They stand at the outside fence and look back.

“They are so insular about their own standards, it’s ridiculous.”

It is this inward-looking attitude, Lake said, that has seen the intensity of training continue to grow ahead of the start of the QAFL season.

“They’re always challenging their own standards,” he said.

The retention of players including Adam Spackman, Nick Tomlinson and co-captains Kent Abey, Paul Shelton and Tyson Upton was crucial for the Panthers, and Lake said those players continued to set the standard for the side.

“I reckon that’s the most important thing that’s happened, that’s what the kids see,” he said.

“When Kent Abey’s in there before and after doing his stuff, or Nugget (Shelton) is out there doing extras or Ash Evans is out there after training, kids work out, that if they want to be above average, they need to do that too.”

Click above to see our video chat with David Lake.

Coming into his first year as Panthers senior coach, Lake said the side’s biggest challenge would be adjusting to a more intense, team-oriented style of game in 2014.

“We’ll play and we’ll have high energy levels in the way we play,” he said.

“It’s a very selfless brand and might not suit a lot of blokes who have played before, but it’s going to suit blokes who are prepared to play for the group.”

Lake said he hoped players like Alastair Nash would step up to the plate this season, after a number of player departures and the potential retirements of some of Morningside’s veterans in years to come.

“What blokes like Alastair and Blaine Delbridge have got to realise is that they’re the next guys who have got to take control of the club and they need to step up,” he said.

“We could lose six straight off the front and those blokes have got to be ready.”

Lake said youngster Bill Pendlebury, a 2013 state U18 representative, could be a bolter this year, marking the start of a potentially long senior career.

“I look at Billy and say he could be a great franchise NEAFL player,” he said.

“He could go to Redland and play for the next 10 years and be a very good player.

“But, Billy decided to stay and he’s a terrific kid, so we’re lucky.”

The Panthers also have some international talent, headed by Ben Miller, a former international rookie on Hawthorn’s list.

Lake said Miller, from a rugby union background, would be a handy asset for the Panthers.

“He has incredible footy instinct, he’s a top level rugby union player, but he has a great interest in Aussie Rules,” he said.

Morningside’s favouritism will get its first test at Cooke-Murphy Oval, against Labrador on April 6.

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