Repaying the faith, by George

By
Updated: February 17, 2016
George Horlin-Smith has been one of Geelong's most impressive during pre-season. Picture: AL PACKER
George Horlin-Smith has been one of Geelong's most impressive during pre-season. Picture: AL PACKER

George Horlin-Smith has been one of Geelong’s most impressive during pre-season. Picture: AL PACKER

GEORGE Horlin-Smith doesn’t have to be told there are no guarantees in football.

An impressive, uninterrupted pre-season – and the 23-year-old’s has been well documented – doesn’t necessarily translate into automatic AFL selection.

However, the Geelong midfielder is keen to repay the faith shown him by the club after he was signed to a three-year deal early in a 2015 season marred by injury and inconsistency.

“It’s certainly a big investment in a player,” Horlin-Smith told K rock Football.com.au

“Football clubs can be pretty ruthless places. It’s a ruthless industry.

“It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly the reason why they might give you a one-year deal, a two-year deal or whatever it may be.

“I owe the football a lot, and I’ve got to make sure that three years is worthwhile.”

Despite being limited to just seven games at AFL level last year, of which he started two as a substitute, and missing a month of the season with a knee issue suffered in a VFL game, Horlin-Smith never lost his focus.

“Football’s a frustrating game, (but) I didn’t really let it get to me,” he said.

“I had a lot of support around me. Injuries are a part of footy, but at the same time I wasn’t playing well enough to demand a spot every week.

“I had lots of things I needed to work on.

“I had really clear communication with the coaches on what I needed to work on, so it wasn’t as if I was in the dark when I wasn’t playing AFL.

“It’s part of football, you’ve got to demand a spot, and at the time I wasn’t.”

THE LURE OF DANGER

It’s that clear communication that left Horlin-Smith in no doubt as to what was required of him when pre-season resumed.

“I’m probably a little bit trimmer than what I have been in the past; less body fat, I guess,” he said.

“That was intentional, as part of my program.

“But, that’s just to mirror the changes in the rotations. There’s going to be more time on the ground, so there’s no need to carry extra weight.”

Aerobically, he’s also improved to the point where he has challenged the likes of Mark Blicavs and mature-age recruit Sam Menegola in parts of Geelong’s running programme.

“We have a number of running tests, and that aerobic test probably suits me and my game a little bit than some other players,” Horlin-Smith said.

“We have a number of tests that I might not be near the top for them, but for that one in particular, I find that easier than some others.

“That is important to me, particularly with the interchange cap, I’m going to be out on the ground for longer, so I’m going to need a bigger aerobic base and it’s something I’ll continue to build on.”

Horlin-Smith, who has played 39 games since arriving at Simonds Stadium at the end of 2010, isn’t sure what impact the new interchange limit of 90 rotations will have.

“We’ll just have to suck it and see a little bit in the first game of the NAB Challenge (against Collingwood on February 26), should I be selected,” he said.

“We’ve trialled a few things at training, but it’s really difficult to tell how much it’s going to have and when it’s going to impact the game – whether it’s early or late.

“Early on in the season we’ll probably try a few different things, I guess.

“But we’ll be looking across different games to see how other teams are planning their rotations and evolve accordingly.”

Twitter: @tom_king79



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