Chasing the elusive bush premiership- PART 2
Thursday night was my first hit-out with my new club, Imperials as we took to the field for an intra-club practice match. The only thing I hate more than a practice match is an intra-club practice match. Playing and competing with your team mates feels very unnatural. Part of you wants to get through the game uninjured, the other part wants you to compete well enough to impress coaches, another part wants you to not to hurt your team mate in a contest yet another part wants you to go in hard enough so no-one asks any questions of you.
I think I achieved all the objectives.
I played OK without being great. I’m just glad I got through. I did a muscle in my back a week earlier and thought all week I wouldn’t be able to suit up for the game. Come Thursday I was able to walk around and after a rub down and an hour of warming up I was able to run around. I was under duress and it slowed me down a bit but I was able to get through the match.
If I was at my old club I would’ve sat out, I’ve earned enough brownie points with the coaches who would take my word if I told them I was injured. Because I’m at a new club with a bunch of guys who didn’t know me very well yet, I’m sure I would’ve raised an eyebrow had I sat out. Put it this way if I saw a new guy at the club who did all the training then ‘conveniently’ did a back muscle just before an intra-club game, I would be suspicious. So it was a no-brainer- I had to play. Besides, I am already unavailable for the second practice match.
I started in the ruck and was pitted against another player I had a considerable height advantage over. Luckily for me and my back pain the coach didn’t want full blown ruck contests in the middle yet, he just wanted a bit of side by side wrestling, much like an around the ground contest. This suited me down to the ground and allowed me an advantage which I used.
No matter how much running you do during pre-season, you are always blowing hard the first 5 minutes of your first hit-out for a new season. I was caught out of position most of the night more due to lack of match fitness but that aside the rest of my game was a pass mark. Managed a few touches, won most of my ruck contests, a couple of good tackles- one of which resulted in a holding the ball and goal to ‘the dark blue team’. In the last quarter I was moved to the ‘light blue team’ and rucked against one of our recruits who actually played for Sturt and rucked a fair bit in the reserves, I’m unsure if he cracked it for a senior game but he’s a far superior player to me, and about six years younger but I competed well and looked OK… I think.
The game was surprisingly intense for an intra-club practice match and I was impressed with the standard of footy played. Blokes were rusty and there are still a few cobwebs there for all but you couldn’t fault the intensity of the match. The coaches did well to make the game relatively even, I’m not sure of the scores but as a guess there would’ve been 2-3 goals in it. Having a new coach might’ve been the reason for the lift in intensity as everyone starts with a clean slate. There were a couple of occasions where blokes were sitting ducks to be cleaned up but sanity prevailed and it was a hard and fair contest.
At the end of the day when the game was over I got through uninjured, I competed well enough that the coach said to me, ‘you went alright tonight’ (which could mean two things, a) you actually went alright; or b) you were very ordinary but because it’s an intra-club match it isn’t a huge deal), I went in and under when I needed and no-one got hurt in the hit-out. The biggest bonus of all was my brand new footy boots didn’t blister my feet at all. For anyone who has run around in brand new footy boots will know that is a dead set miracle in itself.
Despite my back injury my pre-season is going well, I’ve trained well, dropped a couple of kg’s and building my fitness base slowly. We’re still a month from round one so I have time to get right. Still a couple of kg’s off my 90kg aim. It might be time to find the biggest hills in Murray Bridge and get on the bike.
I’m hoping I’ll start in the seniors but to be honest I don’t quite know where I sit in the pecking order of things yet. Sometimes I get the impression I’ll start in the seniors, other times I get the impression I’ll be in the reserves. Time will tell, I’m not too fussed. The days of me stressing over playing seniors and reserves are over for me. If my performances are good enough I’ll play seniors, if not I won’t. It’s pretty simple. My main aim now is to get myself 100% fit so I can run around freely again and make my next, and last practice match of the pre-season, the night I wow the coaches (something I really haven’t done in 10 years of senior footy) and try to cement a start in the seniors in round one.