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    Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

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    Josh Schache knew what he lacked. He understood the essential element that was missing from his make-up as an AFL footballer.

    In this finals series, just the basic of “being competitive” or “making it a scrap as much as you can” has been Schache’s simple ambition, and also the instruction of his coach Luke Beveridge. Finals, Schache said, “is all contest”.

    “As long as I do that, I guess that hasn’t been one of my stronger suits, like obviously in previous years, I haven’t been as competitive as what I need to be,” Schache admitted.

    And so he’s competed, as directed. Forced the ball to ground. Fought for ground balls. “I’ve worked on that a hell of a lot,” he said of his competitiveness.

    To compete became his main focus. “Pretty much. Just my mindset within a game and being competitive, not just for parts of a game, but for the whole game and being more consistent with the way I do it,” Schache said.

    And, then, having met those basic KPIs, he’s found the footy on the lead - as he did in a memorable performance, when the Dogs obliterated Port Adelaide.

    Schache took on Port’s All-Australian key defender and interceptor Aliir Aliir, who was red-hot against Geelong in the previous final. Schache, as footage from behind the goals demonstrated, played at the back of Aliir’s shoulder, as if the Bulldog forward was a defender.

    He described the Aliir assignment thus: “Putting those defensive actions into place a little bit. I just really wanted to be as competitive as I could and bring the ball to ground as much as I could ... if I couldn’t mark it.”

    Beveridge’s instructions were nothing fancy: “Just being really competitive and nullifying his [Aliir’s] impact ... just being competitive and not letting him take intercepts. I was excited, yeah, by the opportunity to give it a crack.”

    But Schache not only negated Aliir, he did mark the footy, quite frequently and so has become, during this finals campaign - one he mightn’t have been part of, if not for teammate Josh Bruce’s misfortune - a classic redemption story.

    Schache’s role, from his testimony and what we have seen, is essentially to occupy an opposition gun defender, such as Aliir, and then hit the scoreboard if possible; if he occupies a gun defender, this also makes it easier for the mega-talented aerialist Aaron Naughton to take flight and for ruckman/forward “big Timmy” English when stationed forward.

    Schache’s story has been likened to that of Tom Boyd, the 2016 premiership hero, in that he was a tall forward recruit, drafted early (pick No.2 in 2016) by a northern team (Brisbane Lions), who has flowered in a finals series.

    ‘It’s an internal thing’: Beveridge disappointed Dogs video was shared
    Schache’s success, however, has been less spectacular than Boyd’s in 2016 (when he might have won the Norm Smith Medal), and has been predicated on playing his role for the team - a mantra that he repeats, over and again.

    At 24, Schache says he has matured and is better able to apply himself and to cope with the rigours of AFL than he did as a teenager lumbered with great expectations, the Lions having traded him to the Bulldogs after his second season up north.

    “This year, in a way, I feel I’ve matured a lot this year, coming from the hub. I feel like I was playing good footy even though I wasn’t playing in the AFL side,” said Schache, adding that he “stuck with myself and believed in myself and [knew] that once opportunity come, I’d take it.”

    If Schache’s turnaround has been visible in the finals, in which he’s started as a somewhat defensive tall forward, he reckons he learned from a stint in defence late in the season, when he played a little down back in the VFL, over two weeks, and then was promoted up to play that role in round 19 against grand final opponents, the Demons.

    He had never played once in defence until that quarter against North and then a half against the Swans in the VFL. Suddenly, he was playing that position against the Dees.

    “It was something different and something that sort of excited me as well and sort of gave me a kick and something to look forward to coming into the club each day to learn something new,” Schache said.

    Schache agreed that his time in defence had helped him play defensively in attack.

    “It gives you another look on what defenders don’t like, being in defence you can see what makes it hard for a defender when a forward is playing a particular way. I guess vice-versa as well.”
    One would expect, given the threat posed to the Dogs by this season’s All-Australian tall backs Steven May and Jake Lever, that Schache would find himself playing a similar role in the grand final to his Aliir assignment.

    “Obviously I wouldn’t be surprised if there would be a similar role ... playing next to ‘Naughty’ and big Timmy down there as well. They’re bloody good players and can mark the ball well.”

    Play your role. Compete. Bring it to ground. These are the lexicon of the role player, rather than the superstar. Schache says he always had the aerobic fitness and had to work on his speed.

    Schache’s finals flourish, thus, is about meeting modest goals. Yet it’s also clear he relishes that he’s not being asked to boot four or five and be the difference.

    Maturity has helped him to cope better with the scrutiny that accompanies a top two pick and young key forward.

    Had the external pressures been a downer? “Yeah, I guess it’s hard not to early on, when you don’t have those coping mechanisms in place and when you don’t know how to control it to the best of your ability, it can be pretty tough.”

    He wondered, at stages, if he would make it as a long-term AFL player. “I guess you always have those thoughts that come to you, to your head every - I guess you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have them ... I feel like I’ve matured in a way, I knew I had that belief.

    “I was a high pick for a reason.”
    FFC: Established 1877

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  2. #2
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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    I wrote him off after the Richmond game this year. Fantastic from Josh that he continued to listen to the coaches and lean into working hard at his ability to compete and just ensure he offers a contest.

    I'm so happy for him.

  3. #3
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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Who would have thought he would be playing in the Grand Final. Well done to the Shaq
    Last edited by bornadog; 19-09-2021 at 04:28 PM.
    FFC: Established 1877

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by angelopetraglia View Post
    I wrote him off after the Richmond game this year. Fantastic from Josh that he continued to listen to the coaches and lean into working hard at his ability to compete and just ensure he offers a contest.

    I'm so happy for him.
    Yes, it wasn’t a great game for him. But how he responded said a lot and he’s now going to be a critical cog in our GF team. His future is once again looking very bright - if he can bring that competitive edge each week, and play back and forward, he has a long term future with the club.
    Woof.

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    I didn't write him off after the Richmond game only because I wrote him off a year earlier after the Carlton game.

    I'm still not exactly confident but the Brisbane final was hopefully a real turning point for him. He made those exact same mistakes that have typically led to him dropping his bundle (the dropped chest mark, the deer in the headlights possession shortly after), but actually managed to stay involved and force Andrews into situations where he should've been accountable but wasn't (thanks Harris).

    He's also not getting enough credit for his game against Port. He didn't shut down Aliir, he beat him. Playing behind him wasn't just seeking to make him accountable, it's also the best place to play someone who gets lost one on one when the game isn't in front of him. Josh is, if nothing else, a really intelligent player and has always had a knack of putting himself in the most dangerous possible positions, and Aliir, as evidenced many times throughout the year, is quite a poor defensive defender (if that makes any sense).

    That trick will not work on Lever though, who can do all that pretty intercept stuff and can also just belt players one on one if that's what he feels like doing. It's a really critical matchup and I'm worried about his game on Aliir being taken as proof positive it will work against the Dees.
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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Agree. He beat Alir Alir. If he had kicked straight he would be being held up as the new messiah.

    Good find

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Days View Post
    That trick will not work on Lever though, who can do all that pretty intercept stuff and can also just belt players one on one if that's what he feels like doing. It's a really critical matchup and I'm worried about his game on Aliir being taken as proof positive it will work against the Dees.
    Let him beat Schache one on one. Naughton will have a field day
    If you kicked five goals and Tom Boyd kicked five goals, Tom Boyd kicked more goals than you.

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by FrediKanoute View Post
    Agree. He beat Alir Alir. If he had kicked straight he would be being held up as the new messiah.

    Good find
    By my count he had about 6 shots on goal in the preliminary and apart from one that did make the distance (presuming he was going for goal) all the misses were not far off. Would have made a very good game close to a best on ground game. Go Joshy!!! Love his smooth kicking action-very good disposal. Admire his commitment to continue to improve & that he has confidence he can be worthy of the mantle of a pick 2.

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by boydogs View Post
    Let him beat Schache one on one. Naughton will have a field day
    That’s not what I meant. I was more saying that canny body position won’t be enough on a player of Lever’s capability, and Josh is going to have to do considerably more to make Lever nervous or even keep him engaged. Lever is an absolute freak at reading not only the play itself but the positioning of players relative to where the ball is going to be, meaning he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    I don’t know how we combat it beyond hoping Schache can get dangerous and beat him a few times, which is far easier said than done.
    - RIP Goldstein for 2021 First - 2020-2020 -

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Days View Post
    That’s not what I meant. I was more saying that canny body position won’t be enough on a player of Lever’s capability, and Josh is going to have to do considerably more to make Lever nervous or even keep him engaged. Lever is an absolute freak at reading not only the play itself but the positioning of players relative to where the ball is going to be, meaning he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    I don’t know how we combat it beyond hoping Schache can get dangerous and beat him a few times, which is far easier said than done.
    Whilst I agree, I think we did a pretty good job in Round 19 at keeping Lever and May under control.

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Days View Post
    That trick will not work on Lever though, who can do all that pretty intercept stuff and can also just belt players one on one if that's what he feels like doing. It's a really critical matchup and I'm worried about his game on Aliir being taken as proof positive it will work against the Dees.
    Who will Lever play on though?

    Wont Petty play on Schache and May on Naughton? Which means Lever will drift around about the place...English has a big part to play here.
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    Who will Lever play on though?

    Wont Petty play on Schache and May on Naughton? Which means Lever will drift around about the place...English has a big part to play here.
    Last time Melbourne tried to get May on Naughton, but Naughton kept going to Lever as we wanted Hannan to match up on May. It worked and May was beaten that night.

    Will be interesting with Shache in and what the matchups are.
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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    I love Schache.
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    Re: Learning to compete: The redemption of Josh Schache

    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Days View Post
    That’s not what I meant. I was more saying that canny body position won’t be enough on a player of Lever’s capability, and Josh is going to have to do considerably more to make Lever nervous or even keep him engaged. Lever is an absolute freak at reading not only the play itself but the positioning of players relative to where the ball is going to be, meaning he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    I don’t know how we combat it beyond hoping Schache can get dangerous and beat him a few times, which is far easier said than done.
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