Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Razor to sharpen Avenel further

Swans senior football coach re-signs for two years - with big plans.

CHALPAT SONTI August 13, 2014 3:46am

Avenel senior player Paul Arandt, president Bill O'Connor and treasurer Dan Boote with coach Cameron Gillett (second from left) after he re-signed for a further two years with the Swans.

He hasn’t got Avenel’s senior football side to the finals just yet — one more win should do it — but there’s little doubt Cameron ‘‘Razor’’ Gillett has been just what Avenel has needed.

And he’s going to be around for a while yet. Gillett last week committed to two more years as coach of the Swans’ flagship side.

The two marquee signings in Gillett’s first few months, star midfielders Don Stirling and Michael Morgan, have also committed to playing at the Swans next year — a tribute to how much they are enjoying their football. Avenel is also actively recruiting, a job made easier by the senior side vying for a finals position.

And for the coach, it wasn’t a hard decision.

‘‘When I looked at last year and where we wanted to be, the club said if you make finals that will be good,’’ he said.

‘‘As the year’s gone on I’ve looked back and said this is a side that needs two or three years of development and the hard work I’ve put into the playing group this year is not something I want to walk away from.’’

In the early days of his reign, Gillett’s ‘‘my way or the highway’’ approach saw a few players opt for the highway, but his firm stance — and consistent message — has begun to pay off.

‘‘I was very hard with a lot of the group to start with. I think that message of ‘if you don’t like it leave’ a lot took personally and didn’t understand that if you do what I’m asking you to do you’re going to grow as a group and see each other grow.

‘‘They can finally see the reason why things are put in place and things are working. There’s players in that side who were playing reserves football last year and didn’t think they would be senior footballers this year and they’ve done what’s been asked of them.’’

Gillett said he thought it had taken the club’s supporters longer to accept his approach, but reckoned he’d converted ‘‘about half’’.

He’s also had good feedback from sponsors, some of who played in the glory days and could see a totally different style of football to the days of struggle.

‘‘They liked watching it and that’s what I want to hear as a coach,’’ he said.

Apart from getting recruiting underway — the club is targeting key position players up front, a ruckman and down back — he also wants to build the depth from within.

And that requires a change of attitude that has yet to materialise.

‘‘We really need to sit down as a club and work out why we can’t get the reserves to training. Last Thursday night we had two.

‘‘We’ve got a very old attitude here where there are reserves boys who say ‘I don’t want to play senior footy, I just want to have a kick with my mates’ and unfortunately that attitude has probably cost us three games this season when we’ve had to rely on those players in the seniors.

‘‘We’ve got 23-24 players to pick from each week and if we have any injuries we’re looking at guys who aren’t going to cut it against the top sides, especially if they’re not training.

‘‘If we have to go out and recruit fringe senior players for the reserves then so be it.’’

Football department member Dan Boote said Gillett’s re-signing was a great boost.

‘‘We’re incredibly happy with him,’’ Boote said.

‘‘The level of professionalism he’s brought to our club is second to none. The culture he’s trying to build is one of club first and teamwork, and he’s maintained that ever since he’s been here.

‘‘The impact he’s had on the playing group ... has been massive. We’re really pleased for him to commit for the next two years.’’

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