K rock Football

Black feeling good again

Aaron Black in action for Geelong’s VFL team. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

FOUR games into his latest comeback, Aaron Black is enjoying his football again.

And why wouldn’t he be?

Geelong’s VFL co-captain is leading a winning side on the run towards September, free of the injury troubles that eventually brought down the curtain on his career at the top level last year.

“I feel good,” Black told krockfootball.com.au after kicking four second-half goals to steer the Cats to an important victory over Sandringham on Saturday.

“In knee rehab, you run at three months and feel like you can play at five months, but you wait another five months. You end up doing a lot of running, so I feel really good.

“I’ve slowly worked up game time more and more, I haven’t cramped for a few weeks, so I’m good.”

The comment about cramp is delivered with a trademark grin that appears infectious around the football club.

It’s part of the leadership style Black is delivering after agreeing to stay on as part of the Cats’ VFL program this season after taking a role as an assistant coach with the Geelong AFLW team over the summer.

“I don’t go over the top and all that, I just try to have a good relationship with everyone,” Black said.

“I get around to everyone, ask how they’re going and have a bit of a joke with them.

“You don’t have to force it (leadership) on blokes. I just be my happy self around people and that’s pretty much it.”

Black is one of a raft of versatile talls in Geelong’s VFL side and has been used to good effect at both ends of the ground.

He started in defence against Sandringham before becoming the match-winner in attack after half-time as the Cats strengthened their hold on a top-eight spot.

The 28-year-old’s presence has been invaluable for VFL coach Shane O’Bree.

“He’s a different leader to most,” O’Bree said.

“He’s very calm and collected, no matter what the situation is, and he just does everything right. He’s a ripper to have.

“I’d love to see him on an AFL list again, and who knows what happens there. But if he’s not, I want him in my program, I know that.

“He makes our lives easier and the Geelong VFL system run smoother.”

Peel Thunder product Black, who played 57 senior games for North Melbourne and Geelong between injuries, wouldn’t be the worst option to consider for an AFL club in need of an experienced key position player.

But for now, he is happy at a club that welcomed him with open arms at the end of 2016.

“My wife and I have really enjoyed the lifestyle down here and the club was really good to me during a difficult time last year,” Black said.

“I love being around here and it’s been good this year in a full-time VFL program.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and we’ve got a good bunch of guys there, but I feel a bit old because I’m 28 and they’re all about 21.”

Black has relished helping to usher through what Geelong hopes will be the next wave of AFL stars and he has been impressed with the steady development of Sam Simpson, James Parsons, Lachie Fogarty, Jacob Kennerley and Ben Jarvis, among others.

“They’re all improving and you can literally see them getting more confident each game, knowing the structures, knowing your teammates and things like that,” Black said.

“Everyone’s really improving. Then on the VFL list, Jackson McLachlan and Luke Smith have been going really well.”

Black will lead Geelong into another important clash when it takes on fellow finals aspirant Casey on Saturday, before a bye in Round 17.

The Cats sit seventh with a 7-6 record, one win clear of the ninth-placed Demons.

Twitter: @shayne_hope