Lessons learned by young guns

Tim Michell

CALDER Cannons coach Andrew Johnston has signalled more opportunities will be granted to bottom-age players to test themselves in the TAC Cup after the competition’s Futures Rounds wrapped up on Saturday.

Johnston said there was “three or four” 17-year-olds the club wanted to blood in the remaining rounds of 2017, with Lachlan Sholl and Lucas Cavallaro among those to step seamlessly into the Cannons side this year.

“We have always said that we have got to have one eye on this year and one eye on next year,” Johnston said.  

“These 17-year-olds that are getting exposed are going to continue getting exposed because it’s not just about this year, it’s about next year as well.

“We will continue to give some of these 17-year-olds and other 17-year-olds that haven’t played yet; we have got to give them an opportunity.”

Johnston said the learning curve had been steep for the club’s first-year players in recent weeks, including their 23-point loss to Dandenong Stingrays on Saturday at Rams Arena.

The Cannons led by 10 points with 15 minutes to play but were overran, going down 10.18 (78) to 8.7 (55).

“That’s what we want to see, the 17-year-olds learning from their experiences and saying ‘I don’t want this to continue to happen this year, let alone next year’,” he said.

“We need to learn from those experiences right here and right now.”

Skipper Brad Bernacki was named Calder’s best player for the fourth time in five matches, gathering 26 disposals and laying 10 tackles in the loss to Dandenong.

Ben Caluzzi also tried to lift the Cannons in the last term and finished with 29 disposals and five marks, while Johnston lauded the performances of Cavallaro, Mason Fletcher and Sholl.

The Cannons coach said Vic Metro Under-18 Championship winners Mitch Podhajski and Noah 

Balta would be considered for Sunday’s clash against Murray Bushrangers, but fellow Big V representative Jack Bytel’s workload would continue to be managed.

“He doesn’t need to be playing his best football in 2017, he needs to be playing his best football come March, April, June, July, 2018,” he said.

Calder sits 11th on the ladder, one game and percentage outside the top eight.

Sunday’s Round 13 starts at 1pm at Shepparton’s Deakin Reserve.



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