[quote]People are sick of seeing people come over from the east or other clubs and use Perth as a holiday destination and they’re not performing. [/quote]
The Perth Spirit kicked off their NRC campaign on the weekend with a solid win over premiership favourites, the Canberra Vikings.
The Vikings, who ran a very strong side seemed to get complacent with their team on paper, and the Perth Spirit’s strong group of local talent capitalized on it.
Perth were lead by a group of players who make up their ‘standards group’, which included their captain Rory Walton, a powerful second rower who plays well in all aspects of the game.
Walton has recently signed with the Force for another few years, and was chosen to lead the Perth Spirit affiliation as the captain.
We spoke to Walton earlier in the week, who had a lot to say about the role of his standards group, and where the Perth Spirit as a team, and as a project are heading.
He said the standards group is really there as a sort of sounding board, and as something to keep everyone on the same page.
“We are open and honest with each other,” he said.
“If you’ve got a question no one is afraid to speak up which is really good and that’s what we are trying to get through to everyone.
“We just keep everyone on track and make sure they don’t have any issues so we answer questions and build ideas on how to make the group better.
“There is no ceiling on how good we can be and we are just there to reinforce that self belief amongst the group.
“We come up with ideas about what we want to be as a team and what we want to represent to each other and the community… its not so much about making rules, and if you don’t buy in then you’re out… it’s more this is how we want to be as a team, this is how we want to appear and this is how we want to go about our business.
“It’s more that we all keep each other in check, so that goes from the blokes in the standard group to the guys who are non-contracted and coming in from the Perth Rugby scene, so its just a matter of keeping each other on track.”
Walton said the Perth PINDAN Premier Grade players are adjusting to the game well, and that everyone is working hard to ensure their success at this third-tier level.
“It was a little over whelming at the start, they’ve come in and there’s new line out calls, new plays, new systems but they’ve worked their tail off to adapt and buy into what we are all about, and the culture, they bring a different element to it and a lot of those young fellas are really hungry for an opportunity at the next level and so you feed off that sort of enthusiasm, it’s quite refreshing.”
Although he said it was a bit early to tell which players are on the way up, he did mention that we should be on the lookout for players such as Nili Fielea and Va’a Mailei, two very skillful wingers who are on the rise up and will be able to use the Spirit as a platform for their rugby career.
“I think the best thing about the whole group is, everyone is aspirational about their footy. Everyone in that group who we’ve brought in is looking to move up, there’s no one there who is just happy to be an NRC player.”
Talking about the experience the Wallaby players would bring to the side, Walton was very honest with the goals he has set.
We’ll take confidence out of having guys like Pek (Cowan) and Hodgo (Matt Hodgson) but it just hangs on paper at the moment, you’ve got to produce and those guys have got to produce for different reasons.
“You cant just rely on names on paper to get you the wins its not going to happen like that, and that’s already been shown in the comp you go into any match with a bit of complacency and you will get a pretty high score put on you.”
This week, the squad will face Brisbane City, who have also come off quite a convincing win.
It’ll be our self belief and we have got a real willingness to work for each other as a group,” said Walton
“How do you beat a team of 15 on a field who are just going to give everything for each other, they’re coming into our backyard and its up to them to pull one out of the bag, we’re not going to hand them anything.”
In summary, Walton outlined the simple set of goals that the standards group, the coaches and the players have for the end of the NRC competition.
I think for a level for us in a Perth, if we can unearth a few young guys and give them a little taste of what that next level is that’ll be a success,” he said.
“It’s not so much about results for us; it’s about exposure and making our squad deeper with local Perth guys. People are sick of seeing people come over from the east or other clubs and use Perth as a holiday destination and they’re not performing.
“The way the coaches have gone and kept that talent really local is good and we can go forward with a group of young guys and on a national level you really want to see that next generation of young footballers come through and go onto Super Rugby.”
The Spirit will be playing this Sunday August 30, at McGilvray Park in Mt Claremont, Perth.
To purchase tickets and to see Rory Walton and the boys in action, head to RugbyWA.com.au where you can check out the squads, buy tickets and much more.