K rock Football

Measured approach for Clark

Geelong Falcons co-captain Jesse Clark. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

JESSE Clark has a maturity and outlook on life that belies the date on his birth certificate.

The Geelong Falcons co-captain, who only turned 18 in February, is hopeful of his name being called out during the AFL’s draft period later this week after meeting with several clubs

But he also knows he is battling with hundreds of other hopefuls for the chance to live out his football dream.

“Being recruiters, it’s part of their job to get to know a hundred different players across the country that are my age of mature age,” he said.

“You can’t get too excited about it because you know they could be saying the same stuff to a lot of different players.

“You’re happy about it that there’s a bit of interest, but you try to stay pretty grounded because you know you’re competing with another 100 kids who might be getting the same attention.”

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It’s that measured approach to life that Clark also takes to his football.

The St Joseph’s product, who took out this year’s Falcons best-and-fairest, credits his improvement to working closely with the staff at the NAB League club.

“I tried to work a lot with Luke Daffy as head coach and Rob Condy as the backline coach, then (fitness coach) Matt Critchley helped out a lot,” he said.

“Athleticism probably wasn’t something that came naturally to me.

“He was really good all season with working on speed or my endurance, and I think that helped me out a lot during the season.”

A natural defender, who prides himself on holding his own in one-on-one contests, Clark has modelled his game on that of Geelong star Tom Stewart.

“We’re a similar size, and I saw a stat the other day that he’s the best one-on-one defensive player in the competition, and that’s something I hang my hat on. I love the way he plays,” Clark said.

“And I suppose for me, if I were to get to the next level, to play a bit more like him in improving my offensive skills – you see when he gets the ball, he either uses it really well or he takes ground by running.”

As well as a captaining the Falcons, Clark was also skipper of the St Joseph’s College 1st XVIII and a school prefect.

He says his on-field leadership developed as a result of a season-ending injury suffered by fellow co-captain Cooper Stephens.

“It put me under a bit more pressure. But through that, I think was able to overcome a few of the challenges and definitely develop as a leader,” Clark said.

“Also, with Coop doing down, it almost drove him to be a better leader. And by him doing that, I did the same.

“He was able to help me out a lot because he saw the game from a different perspective being on the sidelines.

He was always willing to give advice, and that’s improved me because of the time we spent together throughout the season.”

Twitter: @tom_king79