Naroska hoping for young Torpedoes to hit back hard

IT hasn’t quite been the start to his coaching career that Florian Naroska hoped but he’s not tempted to jump in the pool himself for the UWA Torpedoes as he tries to get the OVO Australian Water Polo League season back on track with two games against Drummoyne this weekend.

Naroska was a key part in the pool of the recent success of the Torpedoes with the 2008 German Olympian a massive contributor in the title victory of 2016 and then with UWA again playing off for the bronze medal in 2017.

Naroska was appointed as coach upon retiring from playing at national league level and with the departure from the Torpedoes of veteran coach Andrei Kovalenko but things haven’t quite gone to plan just yet.

The Torpedoes did record one win on the trip to NSW over the UTS Balmain Tigers but lost the other five while also losing to the Fremantle Mariners both at Bicton Pool and UWA Aquatic Centre.

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Last Friday night’s opening home game for 2018 certainly didn’t go to plan for the Torpedoes with the Mariners taking out the 15-6 victory.

That leaves the Torpedoes needing to bounce back strongly against the Drummoyne Devils at UWA this weekend to stay in the finals hunt with games on Friday night from 8.30pm and Sunday from 11.30am.

Naroska didn’t have too much to say following the nine-goal defeat at the hands of Fremantle last Friday night in the home-opener but hopes his young team learn a lot from the experience.

“It’s hard to say much. We had a few minutes in the second quarter where we stuck to the plan and played pretty well, but as soon as we lost the plot it’s just hard to follow up. I need to say Fremantle is quite strong this year and they are heavy in the water too so it was a quite a tough game, but it turned out to be a slaughter for us,” Naroska said.

“We had a game plan as well but we were a bit too slow in the head. We are talking about how we were a second too slow and weren’t able to stop the attack from Fremantle. They also got a bit lucky with their shots as well but they were stronger in the head and a bit more aggressive. They were also heavier in the water which we found it difficult to play against.”

With the likes of Joel Swift and Tim Neesham leading the way for the Mariners, there were plenty of tough lessons to learn for the Torpedoes last Friday night and Naroska is hoping they can quickly regroup and build on some of those lessons.

“If you look at the positions at Fremantle they have a really experienced centre forward who has played at the Olympics and Tim Neesham might not be as fit as he was 10 years but is still one of the smartest players still,” he said.

“Then they have heavy centre backs, and they are just heavier and more experienced overall. We only have young players and even our centre forward is only 22 years old. There is no one to blame, but it was just one of those games and we look forward to the next one now.”

Despite giving up 15 goals to Fremantle last week, the Torpedoes’ defence has held up quite well overall in the opening eight games of the 2018 season. But goals have proven difficult to come by and that’s one area that Naroska is putting in plenty of time working on.

“We are working on ways to score more goals and we are trying stuff in our training sessions. Our defence is still working quite well but the attack is where we need to get better,” Naroska said.

“It starts at the two-metre line and sometimes we have unlucky decisions from the ref or unlucky shots, but hopefully that luck is with us in the next games.”

While having the full week in between games at home from playing Fremantle last Friday to Drummoyne this Friday, Naroska is coming to terms with the challenges faced by a coach at this level.

“It sounds good in theory that you have a full week with your whole group, but at every training someone is missing and that makes it hard for a coach,” he said.

“They’re not professional players so you can’t force them to come to training but we are trying our best as coaches and players to make it all come together. That’s all we can do.”

Naroska is still playing in the Water Polo WA Premier League with Triton and even got in the pool himself during the trip to NSW, but it’s not something he isn’t tempted to do on a more regular basis even when he sees his young group struggling.

“In Sydney I only played because we had just one centre forward and with six games, I just jumped in to help out. It’s very different playing national league compared to A-grade here. It’s two different worlds,” Naroska said.

“Sure, you do want to jump in and help out but as soon as I did jump in I realised I might be in good shape in general, but I’m not into water polo fitness to play at this level. I only did it to help out and I got some exclusions and scored one goal, but was actually exhausted after only a few minutes in the pool.”