Sturt leave their blues behind in 2014

SANFL, Sport — By on June 9, 2014 9:23 PM

by FLETCHER DOHERTY

Sturt’s 2013 SANFL season can be described using a varied array of adjectives: inconsistent, disappointing and lackluster.

A season defined by the lack of positives within it, finishing third to bottom.

However, after enjoying their first bye for the season and following up with a victory over South Adelaide on Saturday, it’s hard to find a negative word to attach to the new and improved Sturt side in 2014.

Like a new car smell, the Double Blues’ resurgence has been both fresh and invigorating, and in many ways, unexpected.

A notion emphasized by their recent 52 point win over Central Districts.

The fact that the victory was only their second at Elizabeth in 17 years further emphasizes the steps that have been taken this year by Blues coach Seamus Maloney and his players.

“We have not won out here for ages and to take the points is huge,’’ Coach Maloney said.

“Definitely our bar has been lifted.

“We came out here expecting to win which is good. To have some scrappy moments and then finish full of running is a real positive.’’

Certain individuals have taken steps forward within the club itself, fuelling the clubs progression.

These players include young leaders Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans.

Stephens’ breakout season was unfortunately brought to a sudden halt by Port Adelaide player Henry Slattery and his elbow; shattering his jaw.

“The first week was rough, but surgery was successful and now I am back into training,” he said.

“It’s a six week injury so my aim is to return for the Port Adelaide game in round 12.

“To have this happen is both disappointing and frustrating because the injury was entirely avoidable.”

Injury aside,  Stephen is both thrilled and excited with Sturt’s progress this season, attributing the newfound success to “a combination of a few things”.

“The mid-tier players have improved significantly and can now be relied upon for consistent performance,” Stephens said.

“The stability of the group this year has been invaluable in giving players continuity and confidence.”

Fraser Evans, another young Double Blue is equally pleased with Sturt’s progress this season.

“Game plan hasn’t changed a lot, but the mental side of our players has certainly changed in terms of player behavior and standards, this has made an immeasurable impact,” Evans said.

Sturt has also become one of the many elite football sides to adopt the Leading Teams program.

Leading Teams is a national program that aims to develop high performing teams through developing leadership programs and team development strategies.

The program has been adopted by the likes of Hawthorn and Sydney, and now South Australia’s Sturt.

Both Evans and Stephens can’t speak highly enough of the program, and the impact it has had on the club.

“Leading Teams has helped us set a clear culture and a very open and inclusive culture at our club,” Evans said.

“In my years spent at the club I haven’t been as motivated or confident in the direction that we are heading as a club under out current football management and program,” he said.

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