HE is younger than some of the players at Alberton and still looks like he could get a game, but the latest addition to Port Adelaide’s coaching group is more interested in helping the club’s big men take the next step in their development.
Matthew Lobbe returned to Alberton in the off-season in a dual on and off-field role after four years in Victoria with Carlton and VFL outfit Werribee.
Having spent ten years with Port Adelaide for 92 AFL games, familiar surrounds and familiar faces in the coaching and playing group have made the former ruckman feel right at home.
At 32 he is younger than his former teammates Travis Boak and Robbie Gray but after being thrown into training to make up the numbers this week, Lobbe has no desire to return to the field.
“I don’t feel as fit as they look,” Lobbe joked. “When you see a guy like Boaky flying around the track just as well as he was when I left and Robbie Gray lighting up the track, it puts it into perspective.
“It doesn’t surprise me really because I know how great Robbie is as a player and Boaky just works so hard.
“They’re still playing great footy and the good thing for the club is that there are a group of younger players learning from them.”
Lobbe has younger players learning from him too with his role as ruck coach seeing him work closely with up-and-coming big men Sam Hayes and Dante Visentini.
He is expecting Hayes to push for AFL selection alongside lead ruckman Scott Lycett.
“Scooter is so experienced so for him I’m hoping just to add a few little things to his game, but he has been so good with the younger guys,” Lobbe explained.
“Hayesy is a really exciting prospect. He’s quite a tall ruck with long arms and a great tap ruckman. He is really dominant at centre bounce and around the ground so he’s really easy to work with because he works so hard on his craft.
“He has trained really well so far, we really couldn’t have asked for more from him in terms of his preparation and approach to training.
“We’ve had a lot of match practice in the last couple of weeks and it’s been good to see Hayesy up against Scooter, but also Dante’s gone in there and Jeremy Finlayson has had a go so they have all had a crack against each other and we will see more of that in our internal trial and pre-season games against other clubs in the next few weeks.”
Visentini has impressed Lobbe since the teenager was selected by the club with pick 56 in November’s draft.
At 201cms, the Sandringham Dragons product has shown an ability to follow up on the ground that is rare in someone his height and a competitive edge that belies his experience.
“Dante is a really smart guy and I like how naturally competitive he is and how much he can offer as a forward as well,” Lobbe said.
“He has already shown a heap and we’d expect some good SANFL footy from him this year. He’s progressed so much since he has arrived and continues to improve.
“His attitude is really good and while he probably doesn’t have the frame at the moment to compete with the bigger bodies, he’s really good at following up his work and chasing and tackling.”
As well as being the club’s rucks coach, Lobbe is working in the football department assisting Shane Grimm with SANFL football operations.
Lobbe formerly worked as an Accredited Agents Manager at the AFL Players’ Association and he is enjoying the balance of on-field and off-field work in his new role.
“I’ve always had an interest in that side of the game and my work with the AFLPA helped with my development in that space,” he explained.
“I’m enjoying the mix of coaching and operations at the moment. I’m not sure if there is one I prefer but I am enjoying what I am doing at the moment.”