Pre season is over

Chasing the elusive bush premiership – Part III

by Jared Newton

Friday night at Johnstone Park saw the Imperials final trial match for the pre-season.  Overall it’s been a successful pre-season, numbers have been good, players have been fresh and keen at the prospect of playing under a new coach, coaches are keen and ready for round one and there are absolutely no rumblings around the club.  Everyone is happy.

Personally my pre-season hasn’t been the greatest.  For the last month or so I was really keen to get running and get my weight down to 90kg but had been stranded around the 92kg mark as hamstring tightness held me back from doing extra.

Every session I really feared for it but seemed to come through the other side.  I ended up getting a few massages and it appears my hips were a little out of whack and I was really tight.   Constant maintenance and stretching has eased it down and I reckon I’ve finally shrugged it.  At 28, which isn’t really all that old in my opinion, I’ve resorted to excessive stretching and icing after the game.  I dare say I’ll find myself waist deep in the Murray River on most Sunday mornings this season to ensure I’m up and about for game day.

On the Thursday before the trial match the coach pulled me aside and told me whilst he thought I was in the best 21 and will probably start in the 1sts round one, he wanted me to ruck a full game in the ressies as I missed the clubs second trial match.  Whilst it was refreshing to have a coach tell me he thought I was in the best 21 of the senior team, he didn’t have to do this, I honestly thought that as an unknown I’d probably start in the seconds.  I’ve been told I ‘am not up to it’ but never ‘you’re in our best side’.

So come game day and I must admit I had never been as nervous for a game of footy as I was for this trial match.  I’ve played 10 years of senior footy, in some good sides, in a good league, against some good players and here I was privately shitting myself about playing in the reserves in a practice match.

Against Mount Barker, a team from the Adelaide Hills League who were a very impressive outfit, the nerves settled pretty quickly.  From the start I had control of the ruck.  I shaded my opponent in the centre bounces and was dominant around the ground.

My possession count was low early and after ten minutes I was blowing pretty hard but as the game wore on I worked into it better and better and found myself making better position and taking some marks and gathering some balls through the back half and midfield.

I was even gifted a goal in the 3rd quarter when resting in the pocket and had the ball handpassed to me over the top and I ran in.  I took a bounce and steadied and was caught for what should’ve been a blatant holding the ball.  I had team mates all around me screaming to get rid of the ball but it was too late.  Much to my shock the umpire judged it in the back and I slotted the goal.

Overall I was pretty happy with the game I played.  My team mates thought I rucked well as did I and I managed enough touches to keep me busy.  Probably could’ve taken a few extra marks but that was more due to poor positioning early.  I actually took a couple of decent grabs in the second half.

We lost to a slick Mount Barker outfit by around four goals.  Apparently our reserves lost to this side by 16 goals in a practice match 12 months earlier so a four goal loss would be cause for optimism.

In the later game our seniors were soundly beaten as well but were undermanned against a bigger, stronger Mount Barker side.  Mount Barker went through 2010 undefeated until grand final day and the heartbreak added in with some further recruits made them a pretty formidable outfit.  They’ll be thereabouts in their league in 2011.  Good luck to them.  To be honest from what I saw on Friday evening Mount Barker would be strong enough to play in any of the MPNFL divisions.  They had size, speed and skill.  We had blokes 5’10” standing flankers that were 6’2”.

According to the local papers out today Imperials should be thereabouts in the RMFL as well.  The local scribe has tipped us to finish 2nd on the ladder and the Sunday Mail Country Footy insert tipped us to win the flag.  The clubs across the league have been pretty active according to the ins and outs so it’s game on round one this week.  Imperials are travelling to Meningie near the mouth of the Murray River to take on the Bears.

This week at training will be some fine tuning in preparation for round one.  Thursday night will be jumper presentation night and I think I’ve snared number 43 for the season.  In the navy blue I’m hoping to resemble Kouta in full flight, but in reality I probably should’ve opted for 44 as I’m more a poor mans Harry Madden.  Can’t wait for round one this Saturday, exciting times ahead.


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    I really liked your account of starting with a new club.

    I reckon that the best way to become known and accepted in a new town or area is to do what you have done and it certainly helps if you have the basic skills to be able to make a fresh start. I well understand that you were feeling a little edgy.

    I used to do some “social” distance running with mates in Adelaide when I was 19 or 20 and then went to Port Moresby where a couple of years later and after a few(too many) beers and much talking made an on the spot challenge to all comers re racing a couple of laps around a very small block. Was OK and miles in front after the first but ended up in a screaming heap and miles behind everyone after the second. I mention this in in the context of your battles to get your weight down. It takes no time at all to lose condition.

  2. Anxiety over the unknown is the big one I reckon. As the new kid in the group you have the need to prove your value to the ‘established’ group. Its not that they necessarily want you to, its just the mindset of us as competitive human beings.

    Fortunately you are going in prepared for all possibilities and that will hopefully lead to an easing of that pressure to perform. What more can you do than go out and have a dig? The team will take care of itself.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says

    So far. so good Jared.

  4. johnharms says

    Jared, will look for the no. 43 when I come over to sa for a couple of weeks in early July

  5. Jared Newton says

    Thanks guys, appreciate the words. Have managed to gain a start in the 1sts for round one this week. Starting in the Forward Pocket, changing in the ruck. We’ll probably start underdogs this week as we are without 4 walk up start senior players. The pressure to perform is on!

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