Thurgoona may have won three of the past four flags but newly appointed co-coach Kade Brown knows that doesn't guarantee future success. The Border Mail caught up with Brown this week with the Bulldog star saying it's the development of the pups which will determine if they can once again stay ahead of the chasing pack.
BRENT GODDE: Its been well documented that a lot of Bulldogs are in the twilight of their careers. Have many indicated to you that they could retire after the season was scrapped?
KADE BROWN: Not many really other than Josh Maher and Matt Murray who retired at the end of last year. But I'm not going to beg any of the older blokes to go again if they want to retire. From the club's perspective we have a stack of talent progressing through the junior ranks and I feel now is the time to start developing that talent and giving the kids plenty of senior opportunities.
BG: Clubs seem to be approaching the pre-season with different ideas. What have you got planned at the kennel?
KB: We have had four sessions so far which have been fairly low-key and basically getting a few kilometres into the legs. We just want the players to have a bit of a blowout but more importantly enjoy training.
BG: It sounds like you are keen to inject some youth into your ageing list. Who are some of the kids that will be given senior opportunities?
KB: At the moment we are averaging 25-30 at training with the majority young kids. Dan and I are planning to put in a lot of time and one-on-one coaching with all the kids coming through. We expect kids like Elijah Farrah, Ben Ralph and Ben Armstrong to be given plenty of senior opportunities.
BG: Thurgoona has an unbelievable run of sustained success winning three of the past four flags. But would it be fair to say several rival clubs have closed the gap?
KB: Definitely and you wouldn't expect any different. I think when a club enjoys sustained success, it makes rival clubs more determined to close the gap and helps raise the standard of the competition. There is little doubt we have been the hunted for the past four years but I'm not so sure that's going to be the case this season with Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Tallangatta landing some high-profile recruits.
BG: Do you think you will recruit many more players before the season commences?
KB: It's hard to say. We have signed a few players that will add depth and help lower the average age of the list. But most of our improvement will hinge of the development of the kids. Thurgoona has a history of players turning up to training looking for a game and we have had a couple of new faces already.
BG: Do you think the salary cap being slashed from $80,000 to $65,000 will have much effect on clubs?
KB: It's made things tight and I know we haven't probably got the room to recruit an O&M star if there was one.
BG: It's only early but who is the side to beat?
KB: We have still got high expectations on what we can achieve but Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Tallangatta look the hardest to beat.