Barnard targets backyard

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Justin FrisSouth Western Times
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Former Royals premiership captain and newly appointed league coach Jeremy Barnard is keen to promote local talent next season. He is pictured here with Tony Micale after the 2001 WAFL grand final.
Camera IconFormer Royals premiership captain and newly appointed league coach Jeremy Barnard is keen to promote local talent next season. He is pictured here with Tony Micale after the 2001 WAFL grand final. Credit: Ian Gillespie

Newly appointed East Perth senior coach Jeremy Barnard is prioritising local talent in his league side next season, while his coaching panel will also have a noticeable South West flavour.

Barnard, who grew up playing football for Carey Park, confirmed fellow former Panther Jy King will join him in the coach’s box as the Royals prepare to implement a new development-oriented focus.

“It’s one of the main things we’ll be looking at during my time as senior coach,” he said.

“We’ll be implementing a really strong development program. If we as a club are going to rely on recruiting players all of the time from interstate or off AFL lists, it’s not going to be sustainable.

“Not sustainable financially or development wise.

“We’ll look to develop our own and look to develop players within our really strong country zone. It’s one of the things East Perth has always relied on – good country players.”

Barnard recalled playing alongside renowned hard man Rod Wheatley, who hailed from Bridgetown, and was excited about offering opportunities to South West players.

“I can’t wait to get stuck into that and the number one thing that we will be able to provide now is opportunities,” he said.

“There will be opportunities for players to come up to the city or from within our metro district to try their worth at East Perth.”

Barnard still keeps tabs on the state of football in the South West and fondly recalls his time at Kelly Park growing up.

“The number one thing about the SWFL is that it has always been strong — even when my dad played for Boyanup-Capel-Dardanup and of course Bunbury,” he said.

“That was very much our introduction to footy with Dad and South West footy was super strong.

“I think they won something ridiculous like seven, eight or nine Wesfarmers championships (now Landmark Country Football Championships) in a row.

“I also remember my great time at Carey Park. They had fantastic people and the footy was really strong.

“I have really strong memories from when I was last there.”

Barnard confirmed planning was under way for the club’s senior list development strategy ahead of pre-season training, which will begin next month.

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