Buddha cracks the whip

January 22, 2024 11:30 am in by
Image: Leopold coach Garry Hocking in 2022. (Al Packer Pics)

Garry Hocking isn’t concerned about a premiership hangover, but the Leopold coach is the first to admit that pre-season hasn’t been flawless to this point.

The Lions, who clinically put away South Barwon to win their second GFNL title in 2023, will be chasing consecutive senior flags for the first time in their almost 70-year history this season.

“There’s been a couple of sessions where they’ve been a bit sloppy or lacked a bit of intensity,” Hocking told Bay 93.9’s The Sideline View.

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“The first phase before Christmas and then just coming out of the break with three weeks off … there’s been one or two sessions, I won’t lie, you’ve had to sort of crack the whip a little bit and say, “Hey! What are we doing?”.

“But, I think, generally, the group’s really good at maintaining a pretty good intensity.”

Leopold became just the third team in the GFNL to win the flag from the elimination final with victory over the Swans.

The Lions will unfurl their premiership flag ahead of the Round 1 meeting with Geelong West – the second time they’ve hosted the Giants in three seasons to open their campaign.

Hocking has rejected suggested his team will become the hunted in 2024.

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“We don’t sort of speak that way,” he said. “We certainly still want to go after teams.

“We haven’t talked about that (being the hunted). We’ve just got to get to training (and) try and improve a little bit.

“We don’t have to improve much. I think when you win it, sometimes, you can change everything.

“We know what works for us.”


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There will be a slightly different look to the Leopold line-up, with Trent West (retired), Mitch Patten (Surfers Paradise) and Rob Maibaum (Bannockburn) departures from the premiership team.

However, the return of 2022 grand final team members Jake Pitt and Tom Scott, midfielder Tom Feely committing full-time at Memorial Park, and the signing of Max Annandale (East Perth), Sam Dukalskis (St Peter’s Old Collegians, Adelaide), Jake Edwards (Park Orchards) and Tate Porter (Merrivale) has offset those departures.

“We’ve been able to top up the playing group,” Hocking said.

“We’ve been able to stockpile really good people that happened to be talented as well.

“And we’ve got some great kids coming through in the under-18s that we really want to – over the next couple of years – go to.

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“We don’t want to bring too many more in; there’ll only be a needs basis over the next few years.

“We certainly feel like we’ve got a good talent pool, and we need to go to work with these people now.”

Leopold will again face Essendon and District League powerhouse Keilor, coached by Collingwood great Mick McGuane, in its first practice match before taking on GFNL rivals South Barwon and St Mary’s on either side of Easter.

“We’ve got some really, really good high-quality teams to play against and get us ready for 2024,” Hocking said.