This weekend the 2016 Direct Connect #DewarShield season will commence with the Melbourne Unicorns taking on Power House at Mossfiel Reserve, Hoppers Crossing. Tumai Edwards, Melbourne’s Premier 1 Head Coach reflects on the Pre-season activities and the impact they will play on the year ahead. “Pre-season has been great this year – all the coaching staff have been blown away by the numbers at each training and the positive attitude amongst the players, which has made choosing the top team very tough.
The coaching and management in all grades have all worked well together and it’s paid off, the enthusiasm throughout the senior club has created a competitive environment to be selected for those key positions. We still have the Premier 1 and Premier 2 teams training as one squad – each player pushing hard to be selected to start this weekend.”
Melbourne Unicorns supporters will be eagerly awaiting their first Home Match against Box Hill at Orrong Romanis Reserve on Saturday April 2.
Asked about new players Edwards said, “It’s good to see a lot of new players come to the Club this Season – one to watch is Mataiasi Naivavu, who is over here from Fiji with the Island Breeze ministry. He has blistering pace and is a well-balanced footballer, he will definitely visit the try line this year.”
The challenge now for Edwards and Assistant Coach Greg Coward is blending the old with the new.
“Last year we built a solid platform and we look to continue from that this season. We have managed to retain the core of last year’s squad and have picked a few new players with a lot of experience. We will be looking to build on those existing and create new combinations,” explained Edwards.
The coaching staff spent time with players during the Pre-season, understanding their personal and team goals for the 2016 Season. This was put in place recently through two nights at the Summit Camp in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges.
“It was a great weekend away; the camp gave us a chance to learn more about these guys and talk about the expectations of being at the Unicorns Club. They had a lot of physical and mental challenges along the way,” added Edwards.
Some of the challenges included a five-kilometre obstacle course that tested their fitness and ability to work as a team to some more individual tasks such as rock-climbing and the sky bridge where players walked across planks of wood high up above the lake.
The camp was also a great way to introduce the new players into the Club and help them understand the community culture that is unique to the Unicorns.
Edwards explained, “Everyone really enjoyed it. The camp helped those coming in especially those guys that didn’t know many of the others. By spending a few days together and doing things in groups they have all come away really knowing each other a lot better and the team bond is a lot stronger.”
This is Edwards’ third year with the Club and his first as Head Coach, “The team all have the same goal, to improve on last year’s fourth place and to take out the 2016 Premiership. Both the coaches and players have worked really hard this Pre-season and I feel we are ready for this game against Power House.”
Team: Melbourne Unicorns
Last Season: Semi-Finalists (4th)
Head Coach: Tumai Edwards
Allocated Rebels: Mick Snowden, Reece Hodge, Cam Crawford, Jordy Reid (capped by Unicorns)