Davies determined to make Mustangs competitive in 2024

Published on Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Author : Tim MacDougall

Newly appointed Reservoir senior men’s coach Rohan Davies says his side fears nobody in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 and is determined that the club will turn a corner in 2024.

Davies was announced as the Mustangs’ new senior coach at the end of last season, replacing Justin George.

He comes to the club after breaking a 32-year premiership drought in 2022 with Mulwala in the Murray Football Netball League, going on to lead the side to successive premierships in his only two seasons at the helm.

It’s a return to the NFNL for Davies following his playing career with Mernda, which included captaining the Demons to the 2012 Division 3 premiership as well as two NFNL league best and fairest’s.

But he will arguably face the toughest task in his coaching career to date, as he looks to rebuild a team that hasn’t finished above eighth position since their 2015 Division 3 premiership triumph.

With just five victories coming since that campaign, Davies says he understands the enormity of the challenge, but is determined to change the perception of Reservoir being viewed as an easy opponent.

“From my standpoint I want to win every game we are going into,” he said.

“Round 1 I think we can win that game. Round 2 I think we can win that game. I don’t really care about who’s who in Division 3 of the NFNL, that’s no issue to me whatsoever. Whatever team we come against I want to win that game.

“For me, success will be that if we are being beaten, the other side will have to play really well and be coached really well.

“Success is to try and get rid of the old [mantra] ‘it’s a walkover if you play Reservoir.’ I want sides to know that if they are not playing their best and coaching their best, we will beat them.”

Last season the club recorded their highest total point tally since 2019 and finished the year with a record of 2-14, with both wins coming against Lalor.

But with Davies implementing a fresh style of training and guidance, the new head coach hopes the club’s tough pre-season will positively reflect on results.

“I’m pretty interactive with the way I coach. We will do a drill and I will ask what worked, what didn’t and how we think we can improve. It’s not just me telling the group, but me asking,” he said.

“The feedback is that what we are doing at the moment is completely different to what we have been doing in the past. It is worlds apart.

“Over the weeks we have built and built and built. We are doing match simulation and I am leaving a session impressed. Whereas in the early days that was not the case.

“Our training did not reflect the training of a successful side, but hopefully now, our current training is reflecting the training of a successful environment.”

The Mustangs join a competitive group of sides in Division 3, with newcomers Old Paradians and Ivanhoe adding to intrigue around the division.

Davies highlighted his excitement around Reservoir’s Round 3 clash with his former side Mernda but did send a warning that not only the Demons, but also the rest of the competition should anticipate a different Reservoir in 2024.

“I am excited for Round 3 at Crispe Park against Mernda. I had a lot of success there and all my early memories were there,” he said.

“In terms of the league, I don’t think there are any powerhouse clubs that worry me in Division 3. Sides can change very quickly in a short space of time. Mernda did really well last year, but that doesn’t guarantee them doing well this year.

“I’ll be treating every side on their merits on the day, and they will be doing similar to us. I guess sides will be thinking that Reservoir is a bit of a walkover, but it just won’t be the case when the game starts. I’m sure sides will work that out pretty quick.”

The coach has helped his pursuit for a new-look Reservoir outfit by bringing eight new recruits to the club.

Ex-Adelaide draftee Ayce Taylor joins as a key-position player, whilst former Coburg and Essendon VFL player James El Moussalli also adds to the team’s senior experience.

The club has also invested in height, with Cobram tall-forward Steven Smith, strong bodied midfielders Mark Ferraro (Templestowe) and Jack Craig-Smith (Mooroolbark) and Essendon Doutta Stars ruck Dean Johnson all making their way to Crispe Park over the summer.

Zechariah Cuppins follows Davies from Mulwala, whilst former Montmorency player Daniel Trajanovski will reunite with the NFNL in the Mustangs colours this season.

Davies admits it was a tiresome effort to secure such an array of talent but says the added quality will be immediately noticed by the opposition.

“We are really happy with how it is shaping up, it’s a never-ending job as a senior coach. You might have 500 conversations and that might get you five players. We have got some key guys onboard,” he said.

“Zechariah Cuppins will just absolutely torch it, so good luck to anybody that has the privilege of standing next to him on a Saturday.

“Dan Trajanovski has come aboard, and he has played nearly 15 years of senior footy at Division 1 level. You can see in the way he trains and the way he talks and his awareness around a stoppage, guys like that help everyone around him, and it’s an experience you can’t buy.

“Put it this way, we have no intention of losing by 200 points every week.”

With the Mustangs’ opening round clash with Ivanhoe just weeks away, Davies admits the project feels as if it is starting from the ground up and that results may take time.

But regardless, he is convinced that the team is now heading in the right direction.

“I don’t want the result to be a foregone conclusion before the game, I want the opposition to have to put a lot of work into us if they want to get the four points. We won’t be handing it to them,” he said.

“The club’s performance standards were really low. I don’t make any secret about that, and that’s been a reflection of the results for the last five years. We’ve changed that and we are going to keep making strides, and results will follow.

“If we get some success early, then that’s great, but I am really confident if we keep adding layers it will get to the point where opposition sides have to do something pretty special on the day to get four points off us.”

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