IN CHARGE: Joe Walsh and Dale Sparkman are co-coaching the Gladstone Mudcrabs this year with the aim of getting the side to the finals.
IN CHARGE: Joe Walsh and Dale Sparkman are co-coaching the Gladstone Mudcrabs this year with the aim of getting the side to the finals. Jake Jones

Muddies have strategy to seek top-four finish

MOST coaches do the job from the sideline, but for Gladstone Mudcrabs leader Joe Walsh, the task is undertaken from his position at fullback.

After a year of trying to make it work, Walsh has changed his approach to the Aussie rules team.

The Mudcrabs are keeping Walsh as a coach, and his strong spot in the line-up taking on the best forward from the opposition, adding Dale Sparkman as a co-coach to do the job on the bench.

Walsh will still have a major say in how the team is run, but now the switch between game plans can happen more easily.

"I was as far from the bench as you could be. We couldn't make adjustments," Walsh said.

"With Sparky as co-coach and Shannon Bakes as assistant, we will have more stability as a group, which will help."

In terms of what needs to change on the field initially to make the team a finals chance, both coaches have ideas.

They won't be going crazy though, knowing the side from last year was close enough to the competition to keep a similar structure.

"We were very close last year. We lost six games by less than four goals," Walsh said.

"First of all, we need to get as many numbers as we can, get more consistency from the playing group week in week out."

Sparkman thinks that will come almost immediately, with a lot of players now blooded into the league.

His approach is to shut down the might of the opposition sides first, then launch attacks to pile on the points for the Mudcrabs.

"We have a young group, so we want to grow as a team," Sparkman said.

"We will focus in defence. We can be fierce for the contest, then the forward stuff comes from there."

After missing the finals for two years in a row, the changes made by Walsh and Sparkman are aimed directly at finishing in the top four.

As the coaches say, anything can happen from there.

"As long as our back half of the year is the strongest, we are okay," Walsh said.

"In this competition once you are there you make your own destiny," Sparkman added.

Most of all though, the coaches want to make the 2015 season an enjoyable one for the players.

"If there is anyone out there wanting to play, we train on Monday and Wednesday from about 6pm."



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