15/04/2024

New Norwood coach Jade Rawlings. Photo: norwoodfc.com.au

Norwood will kick start its 2021 SANFL campaign against traditional rival Port Adelaide and new coach Jade Rawlings knows what is expected of him this year.

First-year Norwood coach Jade Rawlings recognises what is expected of him in 2021.

The former Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne player may have only been appointed in November last year, but already appreciates that outside expectations are of premiership success.

“I don’t think Norwood people expect anything less than that and I understand that,” he said.

“I like that, that’s what I want to be a part of.”

Having never previously been involved in SANFL football, he confesses he has enjoyed learning what the competition means to people.

“I was well aware of the history and tradition of the SANFL before I arrived,” he said.

“But since I’ve been here, I’ve been really overwhelmed with how passionate people are, the coverage it gets, what the club means to people.

“It’s definitely not lost on me.

“I am well aware of my responsibility to lead the club and perform at a level that satisfies the competition’s needs and our club’s needs.”

Rawlings admitted that he knew the competition “would be strong” but expects it to be more even than he originally anticipated.

“You can really sense that across the board, most teams you would say are legitimate chances to compete against each other,” he said.

“People ask me all the time, ‘How are we going to go?’, I’d like to think ok but I don’t know what the competition is.”

Norwood will kick off the 2021 SANFL season against Port Adelaide at The Parade on Thursday night.

The two clubs will be buoyed after it was revealed on Tuesday that ground capacity would be 5000, an increase on the original, approximate 3500 and 4500 figure published by the SANFL.

“We’re in a pretty fortunate position at Norwood where we get the opportunity to launch the season at our home ground against our arch-rival Port Adelaide,” Rawlings said.

“There’s a lot of optimism around Norwood at the moment.”

The 43-year-old has put the finishing touches on a well-balanced side, highlighted by the recruitment of three-time AFL premiership player Paul Puopolo.

“We’ve got a group that I think are mature enough, I think are fit enough,” he said.

“How we come together is going to be the challenge.”

Rawlings was chosen to lead the Redlegs this year following nine years as assistant coach at Melbourne and previous coaching roles at Richmond and Brisbane.

Norwood finished fifth last year, missing out on finals football in the revamped COVID-19-enforced top four finals system.

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