With the threat of relegation looking diminished following its 14-point victory over Panton Hill, first-year Lalor coach Jarrod King has conceded how tough the year has been.
The Bloods jumped two games clear of relegation after defeating Panton Hill for the third time this season in Round 15 of A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2.
But despite the tough campaign, King insisted there has been a silver lining.
“I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be,” he told NFL.org.au.
“I’ve played a lot of footy and I’ve probably learnt a lot more in the past 12 months than I otherwise had when I played.
“It’s been a tough 15 rounds, but I can take plenty of positives out of it.
“I’m playing some young kids at the moment and just seeing how they’ve grown. It’s easy to pack up shop and think it’s too hard but for them to stay mentally strong this deep in the season and to not give in is full credit to them.”
Exposing younger players to senior football and helping them develop has been what’s most pleasing for King, in a season where all three of the Bloods victories have come against bottom-placed Panton Hill.
“Especially seeing the way they’ve had to handle themselves. There’s a couple I’ve had to throw in the deep end and play out of position but they’ve taken it in their stride and handled it really well,” he said.
“I don’t expect them to break records. They’re a great bunch of kids and at the end of the year that’ll be one of the big highlights, just giving them a crack. When you’re down the bottom that’s what you’ve got to do.”
After a difficult season, King remains adamant the weekend’s win against Panton Hill showed promising signs for the future, as he cast an eye on what lies ahead for 2018 and beyond.
“Look we’ll improve but it’s hard to tell at the moment. It’s a passionate club, there’s a lot of history there and a lot of success. There are some really great people in the committee,” King said.
“I spoke to the players on the weekend and I was really impressed with how they handled themselves leading up to Saturday’s game.
“They knew how important it was for the club and we were ready for whatever was going to be thrown at us. We responded really well.”
Lalor has won three matches of a possible 15 matches in 2017, but King looked forward to the remaining three home and away rounds as an opportunity to take another scalp before the season’s out.
“We play North Heidelberg this week who are clearly the benchmark so it’s going to be a really tough match. The Stars in the final round is also going to be a challenge, but in Round 17 we have Watsonia,” he said.
“We haven’t fired a shot yet against Watsonia which is a real shame. Every game I want to win, but in Round 17, I really want to take that scalp. It’s a side we really want to get.”