First hit-out at The Bridge

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.


  1. johnharms says

    Jared, have just had some mail that Imperials are a big chance this year – from the guru of SA country footy, Peter Argent. Not that I want to mozz you. Looking forward to further updates. And I believe you ahve a kid who may go top-10 in the draft. No doubt we will hear of him.

  2. Jared Newton says

    Yeah they should be thereabouts. I’m not going to make any further bold statements! The kid in question is Chad Wingard who by all reports all things being equal will spend the 2012 season in Western Sydney.

  3. Nice work Jared. A few ideas popped into my head.

    I used to hate intra club games too for the same reasons. In one particularly strange encounter, we played colours vs white, to even the height differential I swapped my Saints guernsey for a Collingwood one. During the game I had a collision with the bloke both running full pace, although meeting at an angle. Both of us got up ok, and then showed more concern about each others attire.

    I’m getting all confused, you’re starting your season as we wind down. I had an Irish bloke ask me at training last night when the season started, and I almost answered we are about to play in our Grand Final on the 25th before I realised he was talking about the AFL. I think it was the context, combined with the accent.

    And finally, sounds like there is a fair bit of competition for the Almanac XVIII ruck possie. Maybe it is that us ruck types are the more literate…

  4. Jared Newton says

    LOL, yeah I have always believed ruckmen are a much smarter breed than the midgets running around relying on them to get a stat.

  5. That’s true! The games where the midgets notice you, are the ones where you don’t get the kicks or handpasses off, but the smothers and taps down for them to shark up. When you do get hands on the ball and cut them out of the equation with our silky and delicate skills, they get shirty…

    I propose a ruckmens club/union along the style of the front-rowers clubs of rugby union. These horizontally challenged gents run rough-shod over the flashy backline members of the team, demanding beers be brought and bought for them based on the work done to allow the backs to express themselves. If they don’t the front-rowers won’t arrive to support the backs when they get caught quite so quickly.

    I reckon the ruck is the equivalent/comparable position in Aussie Rules. Does the hard yards to allow others to prosper. (Tongue only slightly in cheek). Thoughts?

  6. Jared Newton says

    One of the greatest ideas I’ve ever heard. A Ruck Club/Union is needed to raise awareness of this dying art. The AFL is trying to kill the position with the sub rule. Not many understand the position.

    I’ll tell you what, should Didak, Swan, Pendlebury, Reid, Cloke, Dawes etc. go down with an injury (one of them, not all at once) Collingwood would cover it. If Jolly went down, I reckon the Pies claims of a back to back would go down with it.

  7. Right. We need some rules to qualify. I tender the following and put out requests for any others.

    1/. Must have played at least 1 game as a ruck, (ie. not as a forward relieving the ruck)
    2/. Must be at least 6’3″ tall
    3/. Must have sacrificed own game in order to make midgets look good
    4/. Membership fee of $10 must be beaten out of smaller members of the team who benefit from our good work.
    5/. Membership fee will be donated to the charity of your choice for the interim until we can find one that is experimenting with DNA from the inferior in order to create a super race of ruckmen

    Anything else needed?

  8. Alovesupreme says

    I hope that I can squeeze in at 1/2 inch short of your height criterion, on the grounds that my football playing days concluded in 1977 (we were all shorter in those days). I definitely satisfy rules 1 & 3, but I’ll have trouble finding the midgets 30+ years on.

  9. That was the rule of most concern. We can relax it if there is valid demonstration of service in one of the other criteria. ie played a few more games in the ruck or sacrificed game for the benefit of others.

    The more you can beat out of midgets is a separate matter…

    Can we be too exclusive?

  10. Jared Newton says

    Or we can judge height to the era you played. Over 6’x” for 1980-2010, 6’x” for 1970-1980 etc.

    You can never be too exclusive, it should be for pure ruckmen too. Not the athletic types that double up as a CHF!! Or is that too far.

    Maybe Harry Madden could be our patron?

    This needs a separate almanac article I think.

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