K rock Football

Tempo focus for Tigers

Bannockburn coach Peter Riccardi. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

THE disappointment of last year’s grand final loss has barely rated a mention since Bannockburn returned for pre-season training, according to coach Peter Riccardi.

After kicking the first three goals of the decider, the Tigers were held to just one more major as Bell Post Hill claimed its sixth premiership in seven seasons with a 58-point victory.

But, for Riccardi and his players, September 10, 2016 is now ancient history.

“To tell you the truth, there was a lot of talk about it afterwards, but since we’ve come back to training there’s been nothing said whatsoever,” he said.

“We’ve just got to keep worrying about what we’re doing and getting our structures in place.

“We played Anglesea last weekend and you could just see that what we did over last year has fallen apart a little bit … so talking about grand finals this time of year and trying to rectify, we’re looking too far ahead.”

The ability to control the tempo of games has been a focus of Riccardi’s heading into 2017 as Bannockburn looks to end a 14-year premiership drought.

“We’ll practise that in practice matches,” he said.

“There was a little bit of that on Saturday and we’ll do a little bit more this Saturday, you know, take the tempo out of the game a little bit.

“When you’re winning by 10 goals, you just automatically go. When the game’s not on your terms, you’ve got to try and change things up.

“Because there were not many games where we had the opportunity to do it (in 2016), we didn’t practise it.”

The Tigers will take almost the same list into this year with one glaring exception.

Co-coach Darren Milburn, who turns 40 on April 15, is yet to train and is unlikely to play.

“At this stage he’s hung the boots up … but it is only March,” Riccardi said.

“If he gets itchy feet and starts training that means he might be playing.

“At this stage he’s sitting next to me and cooling his jets.”

On the plus side, Bannockburn has added former Werribee-listed big man Ben Stretton.

He spent two years with the VFL Tigers, playing 31 games with their Development League team.

“He’s a bit like (Renn) Lovitt from Bell Post Hill … tap, follow up, he’ll make sure he brings others into the game,” Riccardi said.

“He’s not scared to get his hands dirty … he does a lot of hard tackling. He’ll be good for us.”

The Tigers open their season against fellow finalist Thomson at Godfrey Street on April 1.

Twitter: @tom_king79