Tasmania’s current crop of draft prospects were provided a rare chance to learn under the tutelage of an AFL coach on Monday evening, with Tasmanian Football Hall of Famer Brendon Bolton keeping a close eye on proceedings at his old stomping ground of North Hobart Oval.
The state’s southern-based Devils players were aided by the current Carlton boss, with Bolton eager to assist in any way he could.
“My key message to the boys will be all about understanding that feedback loops are really important. It’s how you grow,” the 39-year-old said just prior to training getting underway.
“You don’t get too high or low as a junior based on feedback, it is only ever given to help you grow, and that is something I want to get across to the group.
“Anything I see or notice, hopefully I can value-add a one-percenter here or there.”
Bolton, a former coach at both North Hobart and Clarence, is confident the Devils’ full-time return to the country’s premier under-18 talent competition will hold the state in the right stead moving forward.
“The TAC Cup (sic) allows any player from any part of the state (an opportunity).
“You really can’t be what you can’t see or touch, so now they have something to compare themselves to and playing in this competition full-time allows these players a carrot to chase and to be the best they can be.
— Tasmania Devils (@TasmaniaDevils_) February 11, 2019
With the Devils set to represent the state in 2019 and beyond, Bolton anticipates buy-in from the Tasmanian public.
“I think the public should embrace the idea of having something that is truly theirs again. The public should love the juniors and love when they get drafted and love when they become really good TSL players.
“I think embracing it is step one and everyone can look for little wins from there. You can’t do it overnight, it will take time to compete at that level.”
After representing the then-Tassie Mariners as an underage player in the 1990’s, Bolton admits the step up to playing the nation’s top talent was the best thing for him as a football person.
“I laugh and smile about it a little bit now, (current Brisbane coach and fellow Tasmanian) Chris Fagan funnily enough was my coach when I was in the TAC Cup.
“I can remember leaving George Town thinking I was going alright as a player, played a few TAC Cup games and then realised I had to get a lot faster and stronger. I have great memories of that time and know that it set up a lot of boys for their lifetime habits – I have forever been grateful for my time in Tassie.”