Youth policy plan to lift Magpies back to the top

FIRST-time senior coach Todd Watson was happy to see the club's rising young players have a run in the TigerTurf Cup pre-season tournament last weekend.

Although Wests lost both games and were eliminated from the Brisbane tournament, Watson was more focused on rebuilding the Magpies after a player drain in recent seasons.

With experienced campaigners like Nathan Hooper and Brent Nicholls returning to Wests, Watson hopes the A-grade side can compete again in the Ipswich competition starting March 15.

Stalwarts like Greg Walker and goalkeeper Mark Sharrad are playing on, giving Watson a boost as he straps on the boots in his first year as player/coach.

"We've got some good 14 or 15 year olds coming through that we need to give the opportunity to play against the men," said Watson, who has given up his Brisbane competition commitments to help Wests rejuvenate.

"That's what it is all about.

"We're definitely looking towards a youth development policy within Wests."

Watson said the nine-a-side TigerTurf Cup was a good format and "the guys enjoyed it a lot".

He didn't play in the opening round to observe his players.

"I thought I would go back and make sure all my planning is working," he said.

Sharrad has been impressed by Watson's early efforts with the club.

"He'll give a different perspective," Sharrad said.

"So far, it's been quite professional in the way that he handles the training sessions."

Hooper is returning to the club he represented for many years before joining Easts as a successful player/coach.

"I've realised I'm sort of coming to the end of my career so it would be good to finish off with a few of the mates I started out with like Greg Walker and that," Hooper said.

Hooper was also encouraged by Watson's focus.

"He's starting to turn the culture of the place around which was needed for a long period of time," Hooper said.

Hooper will also continue as Ipswich men's representative coach this season, along with mentoring the Ascot women's side in the Brisbane competition.

Dual-registered players Sara Rogers and Anita Davey are joining other Ipswich competition regulars like Jade Hooper and Aimee McDermott at Ascot.

Topics:  hockey wests magpies

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