K rock Football

Flag drives milestone Hawk

Ryan Garrard will play game 200 for Inverleigh on Saturday. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

INVERLEIGH co-captain Ryan Garrard is confident the Hawks can challenge for this year’s GDFL premiership despite not yet locking away the double-chance.

They will have the chance to do that when they face fourth-placed Werribee Centrals at Inverleigh Reserve, with the winner almost sure to play Bannockburn in the qualifying final in a fortnight.

Garrard, who will play his 200th game for the Hawks, says grand final defeats by Thomson and Bell Post Hill in the last two years continue to drive him.

“Last year was one that well and truly got away,” he said.

“I think, this year, our best is well and truly good enough.

“Hopefully we can take some confidence from the last quarter last week and have a good five weeks of footy.”

GDFL: SPOTLIGHT – ROUND 17

Debuting in 2009 under current Lara co-coach Shayne Stone, Garrard had to wait until 2011 to taste finals action as Inverleigh continued to find its feet after coming out of recess in 2002.

“I remember when I got there, the twos and the ones were getting pumped 150-200 points, week in, week out,” Garrard recalled.

“I was lucky enough to be in the junior group of players that the club really endeavoured to hold onto and look after because they knew they were the future coming through.

“Over the last five years, and the one year we made the prelim under Stoney, we’ve really seen the benefits of the hard work they’ve put in.”

Having played the majority of his career as a small forward since debuting in the opening round of 2009, Garrard has embraced a new role under first-year coach Adam Donohue.

“I was pigeon-holed as a forward pocket for the majority of my career,” he said.

“Then ‘Buck’ (Donohue) came in this year and goes “I want good ball users up the ground getting it inside 50”.

“By my own admission, I struggled initially with the role. But, hopefully, last week was a step in the right direction in getting my head around playing a different position.”

BFL: CONFIDENCE A KEY FOR HAWKS

Still only 28, Garrard has plenty of football left in him, and he expects it to all be in brown and gold.

“That’s something (being a one club player) I really will cherish when I finally pull the pin – whenever that may be,” he said.

“There were a few offers in 2011 when I was runner up in the league B&F to go and play higher league footy.

“The temptation was really high. But something that means a lot to me is that loyalty.

“And looking back at the faith that the club showed in me early days and the junior program we put in (place), I really want to give back to the club that’s given me so much.”

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