Club News

2023 pre-season: Hear from the Coach, Recruit and B&F winner

The Norwood Football Club heads into 2023 as reigning SANFL Premiers, but there has been no sense of slowing down amongst players and coaching staff across the first month of pre-season.

The senior men’s squad returned to training in November, with sessions taking place across various locations, including Rostrevor College, Wilderness School, the “Uni Loop” in North Adelaide, the club gym, and most recently at the “Snake Pit” in Largs Bay.

Following a gruelling running session on the sand in Largs Bay on Saturday morning, Redlegs Senior Coach Jade Rawlings said he was excited to turn his attention towards 2023.

“We are big on conditioning our players to make sure they have a body and a mind that can deal with the fullness of the season week-to-week, and stack up in September,” he said.

“All our decisions are based around that – how we train our players physically, so their minds are strong for the hardest parts of the year.

“It’s a bit of a different pre-season given the amount of surgeries we have had, and guys still recovering from their efforts in 2022 – there is still some work to do in January and February to get us to where we need to be, but in large we are in a good spot.

“We have a number of new players, which takes a while to introduce them to how we go about it, but we have a great leadership group who have been fantastic in welcoming them and teaching them about how we go about it.”

Norwood Coach Jade Rawlings. Picture – John Emery

Rawlings said he had been impressed with the returning Norwood players, considering the extended Finals run in 2022.

“I am pleased with the current players and how they have returned, they understand what it takes to be a Norwood player and how be a professional away from the club,” he said.

“I am pleased with how some of our emerging senior players have attacked our summer, their best footy is ahead of them.

“One of the things I am really happy with, is how everyone has moved forward from the Grand Final – it was incredible, the best experience of our lives for many of us, but the move-on factor is strong for me because the competition doesn’t stop still. We become a bit of a target now.”

Over the off-season Norwood has welcomed Jackson Callow (Hawthorn), Jack Saunders (Hawthorn), Patrick Walker (North Melbourne), Matthew Ling (Geelong VFL), Ollie Sanders (North Hobart), Alec Wright (Launceston), Michael Stingel (North Launceston), Sam Nehme (Oakleigh Chargers), Ethan Haylock (Woodville-West Torrens), Luke Bogle (South Adelaide) and Jake Creswell (South Adelaide) to the club, while several U18 players have had the opportunity to train with the senior squad across pre-season.

“Callow is a big signing for us, he had a great time with us in 2021 – he only played the eight games (before being drafted to Hawthorn in the 2021 AFL Mid-Season Draft) but had a big impact before an 18-month AFL opportunity,” Rawlings said.

“We did a lot of work in the off-season to make sure that coming back to Adelaide was the right thing for his footy, and Jack Saunders is in a similar boat – Jack has been excellent since he has re-entered our program.

“These two have come back to Norwood following time on AFL lists, and Luke Surman was similar last year, it’s good for members, supporters, players, everyone. They like seeing Norwood people come back to the club.”

Returning to the club after two years on Hawthorn’s AFL list is Forward Jack Saunders, who played his U16 and U18 football with the Redlegs.

“I had a great experience at Hawthorn, but am very keen to be back at Norwood,” Saunders said.

“I watched the (Norwood) boys closely last year, it was great to see them win a Premiership, and I am excited to be back, play my part, get around the boys and see how we go this year.

“Callow and I watched the Grand Final last year, I was on the edge of my seat and we both were so excited when Matthew Panos kicked that goal.”

Saunders was drafted with Pick 4 in the 2020 AFL Rookie Draft, making his debut in Round 23 this season, against the Western Bulldogs in Tasmania.

“It was a great experience, working with the likes of Clarko (Alastair Clarkson), Mitch (Sam Mitchell) and Robert Harvey – I learnt a lot and am keen to exert my knowledge onto this group, and from what I have seen of Twig (Jade Rawlings) so far he is very knowledgeable, and I am keen to play under him,” Saunders said.

“I have grown a lot in body size given the amount of gym work we do at Hawthorn, and my running capacity and skills have both improved, but I still have plenty of growth left in my game, so I am keen to be back here at Norwood, play under someone like Twig and play some great footy.

“Playing juniors here and the relationships I have built here are special, it’s a great club and community, it was a no-brainer to come back for 2023.”

2022 Michael Taylor Medallist and Premiership Ruckman Harry Boyd was excited to be back to work.

“What we achieved in 2022 was amazing, but we are a motivated group, a young group and we have a lot of capacity to learn,” he said.

“It is business as usual, we have moved on and we are set to go again.

“We have high standards and the bar is set from 2022, and we are ready to improve.

“A lot of guys have come into this group with the intention of making us better, and we are excited for it.”

Jack Saunders kicking for a goal. Picture – Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos.

Harry Boyd in action for the Redlegs in 2022. Picture – SANFL Image/David Mariuz

Jackson Callow returns to the Redlegs after spending the last 18 months on Hawthorn’s AFL list. Picture – Hawthorn FC.