GWS Giants rising star Lachie Ash said a change in coach has reinvigorated not only him but the rest of his teammates on the eve of the new AFL season.
Following a disappointing year last year, which saw their long-time mentor Leon Cameron part ways with the club, the Giants have gone in a new direction in 2023 with former Port Adelaide premiership winner Adam Kingsley taking over the reigns as head coach.
Under Cameron’s nine seasons in charge, the Giants played in several big Finals matches, including the 2019 AFL Grand Final, but things went pear-shaped last season when the club finished in 16th place with just six wins.
Speaking with the Weekender, Ash said things started to become “stale”.
“Last year I felt like it got really stale especially towards the back half of the year… we weren’t playing that well,” the 21-year-old Victorian said.
“AFL is a results-based industry and you get marked on your wins and losses, but when you’re losing and you come in for a meeting about why you lost, it becomes pretty stale at times.”
Drafted with the fourth pick at the 2019 AFL Draft, Ash made his AFL debut in Round 3 of the 2020 season. The midfielder has since gone on to play 56 games for the club across three seasons.
Ash said Cameron was huge for him early in his career, but admits he and his teammates probably needed a change of voice in the locker room.
“Obviously we miss Leon, and he was amazing for the football club – he was amazing for me in my early career – but it was probably a changeup that we needed, we needed something to get the excitement back,” he said.
“It feels like it’s a new club essentially, just with a new game plan, and how everyone is embracing what we are doing. I feel like it was needed.
“Adam’s philosophies have been really refreshing and I know a lot of the boys are loving the consistent messaging he’s been able to provide us.”
The Giants will look to kick off the 2023 AFL season on the right note when they take on the Adelaide Crows at Giants Stadium this weekend.
The Sunday afternoon clash will be the dawn of a new era for GWS, who are looking forward to taking the field after a longer than usual break.
“Last year was disappointing, we’ve had plenty of time to reflect over the off-season,” Ash said.
“We were back training before Geelong (2022 Premiers) had even finished playing.
“It’s been a long build up and to say that we’re ready is a bit of an understatement.
“I know the boys are chewing at the bit to get out there. Everyone is pretty excited and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.