CARLTON director of coaching and development Rob Wiley says the Blues have thrived during the pre-season under the hard-line approach of new coach Mick Malthouse.
Carlton is preparing for its first season under the guidance of Malthouse, who, after a year in the media, is at the helm of the Blues as the replacement for the sacked Brett Ratten.
Wiley has also come on board at Carlton as Malthouse’s right hand man.
Wiley was a 1980 premiership team-mate of Malthouse at Richmond, while the pair also worked together at the West Coast Eagles.
“Being a mate of Mick’s having played and coached with him, to get this opportunity at Carlton has been a real eye-opener,” Wiley said yesterday while in Bendigo for the Blues’ community camp.
“We’ve come in fresh and we haven’t been disappointed one bit.
“The boys have met every challenge that has been thrown at them, they have trained hard and they’ve really worked hard to understand Mick’s gameplan, and with the NAB Cup coming up very soon, they are ready to bring that to fruition.”
Malthouse has been renowned during his coaching career that began in 1984 with Footscray for his intensity, and none of that has diminished in 2013 at Carlton – his fourth club.
“We need to make it a good environment at the club that the players want to come to, but at the same time, it has to be intense and we need to make sure they are ready for the rigours of AFL football,” Wiley said.
“Mick has been a hard taskmaster – that has always been his hallmark.
“He is very professional, and expects not only the players to be professional, but the coaches and staff to take the same attitude.
“He has been very blunt and to the point, but the players have really appreciated that and taken it on board and enjoyed his approach.”
Carlton endured a disappointing 2012 season when it finished in 10th position – three games outside the top eight – having a year earlier been only three points shy of playing in a preliminary final.
Among the key ingredients Wiley believes the Blues will need to improve in 2013 is more luck with injuries.
And that starts on the training track.
“A lot has been said about last year and the injuries, and they lost a few players during the course of training,” Wiley said.
“So while we have wanted to make training intense and challenging, we’ve also focused on making it safe.
“One of Mick’s philosophies has been to make sure that there are no stupid acts happening on the training track so that come round one, we’ve got as many players as possible to pick from.
“You need a lot of luck in this game, and firstly, that’s a healthy list.
“Then it’s a healthy list that really understands the gameplan.”
The Carlton list of 2013 includes two players who previously played in the TAC Cup with the Bendigo Pioneers – Andrew Walker and Andrew Collins.
Walker is preparing for his 10th season with the Blues, while Collins is on the club’s rookie list in what is his second season at Carlton after being traded from Richmond.
Wiley said the versatile Walker could expect to play in a variety of positions throughout the season.
“Today’s footy is about versatility and Walker has shown in the past that he can play in a number of positions,” Wiley said.
“So it will be about the balance of the side and possibly who we’re playing.
“Mick has been a coach in the past who has done a lot of homework on the opposition, and he’ll have his thoughts on what players are going to best fit Carlton for a particular game.
“So Walker could find himself in a number of positions.
“The one good thing is he has prepared himself well, is a great athlete and an experienced player, which you need.”
Collins has impressed on the track during the pre-season, including in Wednesday’s intra-club match at Visy Park.
“Andy has had a very good pre-season, and we had a bit of a hit-out on Wednesday, in which he performed very well,” Wiley said.
“Hopefully, he will be able to play a big part for us this year.”
Community camp picture special – Pages 24-26