Chewin' the Fat – Kris Miller column April 18

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 5:43 PM

EARLY last week it was strange knowing that I was about to miss my first game since joining South Fremantle and the team was preparing for a game I wouldn’t be playing, but as the week went on I started thinking of the benefits of having a forced week off.

I would never have taken a week off myself, but having it forced upon me might help me with a few little issues that I've got. By the end of the week, I was pretty content and looked at it as more of a positive than a negative in some ways.

It wasn’t great because you aren’t out there. I think I've only watched a game once when I haven’t been playing so I've never had any experience of watching my own team play without me out there. I don’t go to a lot of live games these days either so it was very different watching on. It's tough because you don’t have any impact when you are sitting there watching. I just watched as a keen spectator I suppose, it was a bit strange.

The thing that it will help with is that it means that I won't play four games in-a-row for the rest of the season because we mostly have three games before a bye comes up so I will be able to work in smaller blocks of games before having a week off. I will just concentrate on each individual block of games now.

When people ask me why I have been able to play so many games without missing through injury, I think the main thing is the desire I have to compete. You play sport because you love it and I'm there to play football so when there's an opportunity to play every Saturday I make sure that I am available to play. I probably suffer the consequences sometimes the next day, but I don’t worry about what happens as a result of playing, I'm just more interested in getting out there to play. Your career isn’t that long really even though mine has been all right and I wouldn’t play sport if I didn’t want to play. It's as simple as that. I just like to play and as long as I'm not going to be a detriment to the side, I am always keen to play.

There's no doubt a hell of a lot of luck has been involved as well. I hurt my knee four years back and I did the exact same thing as David Hille did for Essendon and he had a full knee reconstruction, but I played the next week. Admittedly I did have a little tear in my ACL, but that didn’t affect anything I did on the field. Obviously it's a toss of a coin and he was unlucky, and I was lucky. Luck has been a huge part of it, but so is the pain threshold that you have as well. My brother had a pretty high pain threshold as well, but he had some bad luck along the way.

I'm certainly not surprised when some guys who sit out games for very minor problems don’t end up playing many games over their career, or walk away from WAFL level after two or three years because things didn’t work out how they thought things would work out. I don’t necessarily know what each individual goes through with their injuries, but I have played through quite a few and I am dumbfounded at times with what some blokes take a week off for. Mind you, they are blokes who generally aren’t going to make it anyway and it just helps them hang around the club instead of getting dropped or told they aren’t up to it.

As for this season, I had a good pre-season. Up until Christmas, I just did running and that's all I did. I didn’t do any skills or weights, I just did a running component because I felt that running is such an important part of the game and that skill-wise I thought I could pick that back up pretty quickly. I wanted to put all my efforts into running as opposed to working on my skills, getting tired and then trying to run. I made sure I did my running when I was as fresh as I could be so I could get the most out of it. Then after Christmas and the New Year, I jumped in and did everything.

Now as for the season itself, I think my start hasn’t really been any better or worse than what I have normally done. From an individual point of view, I certainly think that I can walk around knowing that I've done my best for the team and that my best has been pretty good, so I think over the first three rounds I have played as well as I did when I was 22 or 23. I play a bit differently now, but I think that impact-wise I can have just as much now as I have ever done before.

As a team we are a long way from finished this season as far as I'm concerned. The competition is that even this year that the number of wins that you need to get into the finals might not be very high, you might get in with about 10 wins. There could be five or six teams all around that 10-win mark so we still have 16 games to go and we might only have to go at a bit better than one in two. I don’t think we are far away and our losses suggest that we aren’t far away. We just need to break through for that first win to get the belief and once that happens, the wheel can turn pretty quickly.

By Kris Miller