K rock Football

Tigers prepared to be the hunted

Sam Jacka will play his 150th game for Thomson on Saturday.

SAM Jacka says Thomson’s experience of being the hunter has the short-priced GDFL premiership favourite well prepared to be the hunted over the final seven weeks of the season.

The Tigers shocked almost everyone when it beat Inverleigh in last year’s grand final, and Jacka, who will play his 150th game in Saturday’s clash with Belmont Lions at Winter Reserve, believes that will hold his team in good stead.

“We know what it’s like to come from behind when all the odds are against you,” the second-year captain said.

“I think that probably puts us in good stead; we don’t get ahead of ourselves, and every guy knows we’re not looking forward – it’s that ‘one week at a time’ approach.

“It gives us solid ground to stand on knowing that, on the day, anyone is capable of doing anything.

“They were such a good team last year, but we backed ourselves in and we know that confidence is going to be there for any team that comes up against us.

“But, if you’re not confident in your own processes, you’ve got nothing.”

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Thomson has suffered just the one loss for 2019, with Werribee Centrals snapping the Tigers 15-match winning streak with a 51-point win at Galvin Park in Round 13.

Jacka says whether that was the loss they had to have, or exposed some of Thomson’s frailties, won’t be known until the season is done and dusted.

“You can take the pros and the cons out of any situation, I suppose,” he said

“We tried to take the silver lining from the situation. It could be a pretty pivotal point in our year.

“We sat down as a group and we were able to step back and start thinking more about we’re trying to achieve as a whole, and just getting that enjoyment back into footy.

“It was a little of a wake-u call, and that’s always a positive thing, especially when it comes in the middle of the year and not the pointy end of the season.”

A Thomson junior, Jacka’s loyalty was rewarded with last year’s premiership, and he’s keen to be part of an era similar to the one that produced three flags in four years between 2005-08.

“You can look at the type of people we’ve attracted to the club this year; we’ve brought in some pretty successful heads and more people to add to that success,” Jacka said.

“We’re looking at that as the end goal, but we know there’s a long process before that.

“But, we’re definitely looking to achieve more success as the years go on, and hopefully that doesn’t stop at this year.

“It’s a bit of an old cliché that you take it week-by-week, but it’s enjoyable at the moment being in a successful environment and enjoying each round as it comes.”

Jacka was just 18 when he debuted in the opening round of 2010 against Corio and was quickly given a reminder that he was no longer playing under-18s.

“I can remember we were only a couple of goals up in the last quarter and I tried to kick a goal from about 60m out and I got an absolute barrage from (teammate) Brett Anderton,” Jacka recalled.

“It made me realise I was playing senior footy.

“I was named to line-up in the forward pocket and Luke McLean switched me to a back pocket and I’ve been stuck there ever since.”

Jacka has carved out a reputation as one of the GDFL’s best defenders of the past decade and admits challenging himself at a higher level has crossed his mind.

“I still have people coming up to me saying I’m doing myself a disservice by not challenging myself,” he said. “But, you hear so many stories about people doing it and regretting, and people not doing it and regretting it.

“I’ll be comfortable with the decision I make, whether or not that is something in the next couple of years I’ll look at.

“It’s certainly not something that’s been at the forefront of my mind because I’ve only ever had two contacts across my career.”

“Haami Williams called me when he first went to Modewarre, and ‘Finchy’ (former Modewarre coach Josh Finch) got in contact with me via text message at the start of last year.

“But, it’s a difficult one, because everyone knows how strongly aligned with this footy I am.

“It would be a hard journey for me to walk away from this now.”

Twitter: @tom_king79
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