Wests A-Grade captain Eden Jackat (left) has backed her team’s new coaching combination. Picture: Rob Williams
Wests A-Grade captain Eden Jackat (left) has backed her team’s new coaching combination. Picture: Rob Williams

Knowledge-rich duo keeping premiers on track

HAVING an Olympian as head coach and a loyal club assistant is just what Wests need this season.

A-Grade captain Eden Jackat is delighted the club had appointed former Hockeyroo Jade Close as head coach, aided by the accomplished Vanessa Kissane.

Close and Kissane took over from one of Ipswich’s most successful coaches Brent Nicholls.

Close will play as well as mentor the defending premiers, if the 2020 Ipswich season can resume.

“Jade has got that knowledge and experience at elite level and she does bring a very different perspective to the game and what we had with Brent,’’ Jackat said.

“She’s awesome.’’

“Vanessa (Nicholls’ sister) is very similar to Brent in knowledge of the game and coaching and how they handle the players.

“I think it’s a really good duo.’’

Close joined Wests having come from Wagga Wagga in NSW a few years ago.

The retired national player had 87 matches for the Hockeyroos, including at the 2012 London Olympics.

The 32-year-old also represented the NSW Arrows in the national league.

She was part of some recent Wests A-Grade premierships after moving north.

Kissane has devoted considerable time developing Ipswich’s best juniors.

“She was definitely a big support to the young girls coming up,’’ Jackat said.

“It’s quite daunting to come into A-Grade training, especially in pre-season.’’

As one of the exciting next generation players, Jackat is eager to help Wests continue its positive development work having lost long-serving representative duo Amy Kickbusch and Amy Nicholls.

“Wests have always blooded their players young,’’ Jackat, 23, said.

“So that, in situations like this, they have experience and they have a few games under the belt so they’re not stepping into A-Grade having zero games.

“I think once we have a few games, they’ll be fine.’’

Halfback Emma Johnson was appointed vice-captain for the 2020 season.