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Maturing Howard finding form

Coach's Office - Christian Howard (Rd10) This week development coach Ash Hansen analyses Christian Howard's important performance in Footscray's win over Coburg in the VFL.
Christian Howard in action during a Western Bulldogs training session at Whitten Oval, Melbourne. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Christian Howard in action during a Western Bulldogs training session at Whitten Oval, Melbourne. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Christian Howard has quietly gone about his business, maturing as a player, and a best on ground performance against Coburg last weekend is testament to that.

The defender continues to work his way into form this season and Development Coach Ashley Hansen said last Saturday’s performance is the product of hard work.

“On the weekend against Coburg was probably his most influential game in the VFL side this year, which has been really pleasing,” Hansen said.

“He’s been building some good momentum and form over the last month.

“He’s been using the ball really well off half back which is really important but he’s also growing in his confidence in the one-on-one physical contest, which is so important as a defender.”

Surgery prolonged Howard’s start to the pre-season but Hansen said his attitude to rehabilitation and subsequent game time in the first six rounds has him well placed for the remainder of the season.

“He had a slow start over the pre-season with both hips having to be operated on… but was really diligent in his rehab and probably got back sooner than what we had planned which is a credit to him and his professionalism,” he said.

Hansen said the stability of a stand-alone VFL side has paid dividends for Howard, allowing him to learn his craft and build consistency in his role.

“Being coached by our coaches and having that really clear instruction and focus every week with clarity that doesn’t get changed has probably helped Christian,” he said.

Another step in the 23-year-old’s development is having the confidence to use his experience and voice to influence the game as well as his physical actions.

“Christian now has some really good experience behind him, so we are really challenging him for that leadership role too which I think is improving his performance as he has to take on that responsibility,” he said.

“We want all our guys to be leaders but I suppose his seniority within the VFL team is really starting to shine through and he is really taking that onboard himself.

“He knows all the structures so we want him to be vocal in setting those up and taking n that leadership role.

“It’s a credit to him that he’s embraced it and it’s a part of us having a strong culture through the VFL and the AFL that guys are doing that.”