RECENTLY re-appointed Simpson co-coaches Tom Leishman and Nick Harding are hoping to see the fruits of a strong pre-season next year.
The pair missed out on seeing what the Tigers could produce in 2020 following a productive summer and re-signed last week for season 2021 after all coaching positions at the club were advertised.
Leishman said the pair were “pretty excited” to continue in the role after they received the support of Simpson’s committee and the playing group’s tick of approval.
“We took our time to think about whether we should do it again or whether it was time for me to hand it over because I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said.
“We spoke to all the players individually before we committed, just to know what their thoughts were, and it was overwhelming the response from them wanting us to do it again.
“We’re pretty excited about it.”
The re-appointment of Leishman and Harding adds a layer of stability at the Tigers as they seek a return to the Colac and District Football Netball League finals.
The pair missed out on coaching together for the first time this season, with Harding coming on-board as co-coach at the end of 2019.
Leishman said it was disappointing the star forward did not get his chance to coach, but said the club already had a strong platform to build from.
The majority of the playing list has already re-committed, with the pair eager to add height and experience across the ground if they recruit.
“We’re not out there trying to recruit a whole list, all the pieces are there and now we just have to add to them,” Leishman said.
“There wouldn’t be too many other coaches out there that would have so many signed up and keen already, but it’s just up to ourselves now to go out there and fill the gaps.”
The cancellation of country football in Victoria left the Tigers disappointed after the playing list showed strong commitment throughout the pre-season.
They were fitter, stronger and ready to pounce, with their efforts showcased in the club’s practice matches ahead of round one.
Leishman said the early signs indicated Simpson was ready to push back into the top five, with the midfielder likening their game play to the Tigers’ premiership sides of 2014 and 2015.
“Last year was the best pre-season we’ve had in my time (as coach),” he said.
“The boys were the most committed and the fittest they’ve been by a longshot and everyone was really excited about how the year was going to go for us.
“Not being able to get out there was disappointing but it only got me hungrier to do it again and Whoppa (Harding) was the same.
“Like I said, our pre-season was really good, we’d had really good practice matches and had some good wins in them and the game style we were showing was some of the best footy I’ve seen us play since we won those flags.”
Leishman and Harding are confident those pre-season gains can be replicated in 2021, with the former revealing his players had continued to train hard in the absence of footy.
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