Bond Bullsharks looking strong with key coaches confirmed for 2017 AFL season

October 5, 2016

Bond Bullsharks has confirmed the re-appointment of its key coaching staff – Sam Whish-Wilson (seniors) and Ben Merrett (reserves) – for the 2017 AFL season, following strong team performances in 2016.

2017 will mark Whish-Wilson’s fourth year coaching the Bullsharks’ senior team after moving to Bond from Southport. He has led the side to two premierships (2014 and 2015) in two successive divisions and this year led the senior side to a preliminary final in yet another higher division.

Merrett, who joined Bond last season from Southport, will return in 2017 to coach the Bullsharks reserves, whom he led to the semi-final this year, in their first-ever finals appearance.

Bond Bullsharks AFL Club Coordinator, Sam Schiphorst said the Club was very excited to confirm the two key coaching posts.

“The club continues to go from strength-to-strength, year-on-year, and this has been driven by the superb coaching skills of Sam and Ben within our men’s program,” Schiphorst said.

“They both have an incredible ability to motivate and inspire their teams, which translates into not only happy, dedicated, high-performing players but also excellent results on the field.”

“Our goal is to become the team to beat – across our two men’s and our women’s divisions – in 2017.”

Coach Whish-Wilson said he couldn’t wait to get back on the field with the senior team, as they face yet another challenging new division next year – QFA Division 1.

“The senior team has worked hard to nurture the right footy culture at Bond, which had allowed them to continue to be competitive at a higher level, season upon season,” Whish-Wilson said.

“We stepped up our training, we stepped up our game; we were ambitious and invested in our players, and this effort paid off.

“We have a really good group of talented, capable people, great leaders and have achieved excellent results.”

The team’s hard work and achievement was recognised earlier this year with two Bond AFL Seniors team players - Edward Burrows-Cheng and Ben Merrett - being selected to play in the south-east Queensland regional team, and coach Sam Whish-Wilson being selected as assistant coach.

“Ed and Ben were the first players in the club’s history to be selected at the representative level and it was a great reward for the incredible effort they have contributed,” Whish-Wilson said.

“Having the experience of playing in the regional team in Cairns against North Queensland has made them even better players.

“We’ve had an awesome result this season which was driven by the hunger of our players and their desire to get the best out of themselves.

“The support we’ve had from the University has been fantastic. The boys really feel this and it impacts on how we play and why we have kept on improving, week on week and season on season.”

Merrett said he was thrilled to be returning to coach the reserve side in 2017, following a year of highs and lows that saw them become the first ever reserves to qualify for the finals.

“The reserves were the most successful reserves side in Bond University AFL history,” he said.

“Despite not achieving the ultimate success of grand final victory, the team’s effort throughout the year could not be questioned.

“With more than 60 players taking the field for the reserves in 2016, the effort and performance of the group was a credit to each and every player.

“Many of our players stood up to play senior games this season, which is a key role of the reserve grades.

“The way in which all the reserves players approached their football set the tone for the entire club each game day - which is what it is all about.

“The mix of our experienced and youthful reserves players, now with a season under their belt, has provided us with a stable platform to build upon, as we look ahead to a bright and promising 2017.”

Despite an awesome record of eight wins and six losses and a percentage over 100 in their 2016 season, Schiphorst said the Bond Bullsharks’ women’s team were unlucky not to make the finals this year.

“Considering this was just their second season in the highly competitive QWAFA competition, this was a great effort and an excellent result,” Schiphorst said.

“Bond’s women’s AFL program is gathering momentum and the team has their eyes firmly on the prize for Season 2017.”

Bond University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford congratulated all three teams on their performance in the 2016 season.

“Both our men’s and women’s teams should be very proud of their achievements this season,” Professor Brailsford said.

“Our AFL club has developed an outstanding culture which is built on integrity and accountability; all our players have a deep respect for each other, their opposition and the officials.

“Coach Whish-Wilson has assembled a very strong squad drawn from every Australian state and territory, and his experience and expertise is instrumental in the ongoing success of the Bullsharks.

“I also acknowledge and thank Mr Roger Merrett, a former Essendon and Brisbane AFL player, with over 300 games and more than 400 career goals to his name.

“Roger has come on board this year and played the role as mentor and number one volunteer. His presence is both inspiring and humbling.”