Dean Laidley breaks the ice

Dean Laidley

Dean Laidley’s spent the best part of the past 24 hours doing his bit for Optus.

As Carlton’s newly-appointed Assistant Coach – Midfield, Laidley’s made it his priority to break the ice with the playing group, by placing phonecalls to each of them from the confines of the football department at Visy Park.

“I’ve been trying to call as many of the players as I can, just really to touch base, to say ‘g’day’ and to tell them that I’m on board,” Laidley said. “They’ll all start to wander in next week, so this is a bit of an icebreaker and the response so far has been terrific.

“I come in pretty much cold, which is really good. Yes, you have a perception, but then you get to know the players and forge relationships with them. That’s the best thing of footy for me and I’m really looking forward to that part of it.”

Though his exchanges with the players have so far been confined to pleasantries over the “dog and bone” there can be no doubting the experience Laidley brings – through 151 games as a player with both West Coast and North Melbourne (including a Premiership at North), as a Senior Coach at Arden Street, and as an Assistant Coach at Collingwood (under Michael Malthouse), Port Adelaide and St Kilda as an Assistant.

“There’s lots of people here, whether from football coaching, development coaching, opposition coaching or strength and development people with whom I’ve worked, played or coached with over a long period of time, so it’s terrific to renew acquaintance,” he said.

“I’ve been around for a while now and the longer you’re in the game the more you realise how important it is to be in a dynamic environment where everybody loves coming to work.

“There are a lot of elements (to winning) but enjoyment is the key element in the platform to success (and) we’re all here to be in finals, win finals and win a Grand Final.”

Without question, midfield is where games are won and lost – and of the many and varied midfielders now at his disposal at Carlton, Laidley is positively salivating.

“I’m really looking forward to working with them. There’s some champions in there, there’s some young players who are making their way, there are players trying to force their way in and there’s the addition of Dale Thomas,” he said.

“Carlton’s list is much like any other – there are some real strengths and some holes to fill, but the depth has improved through the trades and will continue to do so through the draft.

“We’ll need our best players playing 15-20 games through the year, with a couple of breathers through the year which does them good, because, like any club, you need your best players on the park.”