Injured North Launceston captain Taylor Whitford learning the craft of coaching

TAYLOR Whitford’s leadership at North Launceston is already revered but the premiership captain is using time on the sidelines to bolster his skill set. 

Whitford, 25, and talented half back Jay Lockhart are exploring the world of coaching while recovering from respective ankle and knee injures.

The pair mentored teammates from the Invermay Park boundary line last week against Devonport and will continue to try their hands until they pull the boots back on.

KEEN EYE: Injured North Launceston captain Taylor Whitford has been learning the art of coaching from the sidelines in the past weeks. Picture: Andrew Woodgate

KEEN EYE: Injured North Launceston captain Taylor Whitford has been learning the art of coaching from the sidelines in the past weeks. Picture: Andrew Woodgate

“I’ve worked with dad (Chris Whitford) who is looking after the midfield and we’ve just had a look at how things run,” Whitford said.

“Jay and I were running thing from the bench on the weekend, which was a great experience.”

“It certainly gives you a different look at things and how much work has to be done, and how much planning you have to do in terms of scenarios for game day.”

Northern Bombers coach Tom Couch said while he would love Whitford and Lockhart to be playing, the experience would only make them better players.

“They see the game really well,” Couch said.

“We’re confident that after four weeks in the coaches box or on the boundary line, they are going to comeback and be like another two coaches playing.”

With Couch also ruled out for this Sunday’s match against Burnie, Whitford said he is unsure about what his role at West Park will involve.

But he hopes his troublesome ankle is right for him to play against Glenorchy in Launceston next weekend.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to come back and add a few things in another way rather than just being a player and going out there trying to play your role,” the 2015 State League player of the year said.

We’re confident that after four weeks in the coaches box or on the boundary line, they are going to comeback and be like another two coaches playing. - Tom Couch on Taylor Whitford and Jay Lockhart

“Hopefully I’ll be able to see things unfold before they actually happen, which I guess we’ll just wait and see.”

“I had an injection in the ankle the other week to calm things down a little bit.

“We had the bye so I had a few completely weeks off to just recuperate after nine or 10 games straight.”

Whitford hurt his ankle during pre-season training, while Lockhart had surgery after North’s round 12 victory over Launceston to repair a damaged meniscus in his left knee.

Lockhart, this year’s Lefroy Medallist, is expected to be available for the Bombers’ clash with Tigers on July 29.

BURNIE V NORTH – Sunday, July 16

CONTEST: North Launceston defender Connor Young and Burnie's Josh Murray battle for the ball at UTas Stadium on May. Picture: Phillip Biggs

CONTEST: North Launceston defender Connor Young and Burnie's Josh Murray battle for the ball at UTas Stadium on May. Picture: Phillip Biggs

North Launceston taught Burnie’s young charges a football lesson at UTas Stadium 10 weeks ago.

Last year’s runners up had too much grunt for an undermanned Dockers with all of the Northern Bombers’ big guns guiding them to a  20.31 (151) to 3.6 (24) triumph.

However, a bonus for bottom-placed Burnie at West Park on Sunday is that North will be without coach Tom Couch, skipper Taylor Whitford and defender Jay Lockhart.

Defender Connor Young makes his long-awaited return from injury, while Tassie Mariner Tyran Mansell replaced fellow baby Bomber Karlton Wadley. North were a bit off against Devonport at Invermay Park last week after coming of a two-week break, but Couch expects his 22 players to be in the zone.

“(The review of the Devonport match) has been about our effort for four quarters, we were a bit off in that first quarter,” he said.

“We had had 10 days off after the Launceston game… and we had eight of our first 22 out so we were a bit rusty.

“Going forward the break is going to work out well in the long term.”

Couch said the Dockers, like North, love to attack.

“Burnie like to take the game on so if you’re off a metre or two they’ll go for their kicks, which is good as it keeps you honest,” he said.

“There’s no point sitting back trying to flood us, they get numbers around the footy and we like to do the same.

“They’re going to be good in a few years as they have some talented kids.”

Burnie will have talented youngster Tom Mundy at its disposal for just the third time this season as he is one of three changes.

Blair Challis and Darcy Crane also come in, with coach Clinton Proctor, Finlay Poke and Blair Rubock out.

The match starts at 2pm.

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