By Matt Fotia
Newly appointed Rowville Senior coach Ben Wise will be tinkering with the way the Hawks play as he seeks to take the club to the next level in 2021 and beyond.
Wise is no stranger to the club, or the Eastern league.
He’s spent the last three seasons as assistant to the outgoing John Brown and spent large parts of his career at Division One clubs in East Burwood and Balwyn, playing under the likes of Daniel Harford and Daniel Donati, before completing his playing career with a swan-song season at Kilcunda Bass.
And he’s the man Rowville believe can take them from finalists to contenders.
With experience working and playing under some of the best coaches in the local game, Wise has plenty of hours on his coaching apprenticeship and says a couple of key learnings will be the basis of his coaching theory.
“Obviously being a part of such a successful club (Balwyn), who had come straight out of the Southern League when I arrived and had to build up in the Eastern to be a powerhouse showed me that you’ve got to get good people around you and the club and then the rest will follow,”
“Once you get a good name for yourselves, the talent will follow.”
A Rowville local, Wise’s relationship with Rowville President Paul Mynott helped land him the assistant coaching role a few years back.
Wise had made it known to Mynott that he was keen to get into the coaching ranks following his year in the country leagues and when John Brown was given the main gig at Seebeck, Wise was the first one on the speed dial.
“Browny got the job, gave me a ring and we started speaking football and just hit it off,”
“After having the year down at Kilcunda I was keen to get back to that higher, more professional, standard.”
“It (the offer) was good timing for me, with a young family to be close to home but also have my foot in the door to see if I wanted to make something of coaching.”
Now in the hot seat, Wise is ready to set about building on Brown’s strong work with the Hawks, citing a few minor structural and ball movement tweaks as the key to taking the next step.
“Bringing in top end talent will be a plus and developing kids that we’ve got coming through as well, but I’ll be looking to change a few things in the way we structure up and move the football,”
“I think we aren’t far away from that (next step), we’re a pretty young group so now that a good core of the guys have 30-40 games under their belt they’re going to keep getting better and better,”
“So if we can get a couple of guys in key positions that will help our side, we’ll grow pretty quickly from that.”
From the outside looking in, an obvious area that the Hawks can improve in is their scoring power.
They’ve been ranked higher than 5th for points scored just twice since 2015 and despite finishing in 4th spot on the ladder in 2019 the Hawks were ranked 7th for points scored.
They’ve also made finals four times since 2015, but have a 0-5 record.
Whilst Wise’s game plan changes may help remedy this issue, a pair of potent forwards will be more likely to add goals to the Hawks total.
The Hawks are hoping to keep Mitch Garner fit and firing for the whole season and will expect to see more of Riley D’Arcy, who featured six times for VFL outfit Frankston in 2019.
The forward kicked 39 goals in 18 games for the Dandenong Stingrays in 2017 and has 48 goals in 20 games for Rowville across the past two seasons.
“We need to get the ball inside forward 50 a little bit quicker and lock it in to give ourselves more scoring opportunities,”
“But we didn’t have Riley for much of last season, so he’ll be with us full time along with Mitch Garner who if we can keep him on the park, will offer us a couple of big targets deep in the forward line that we can utilise.”