Clarke disappointed, but loving the view - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clarke disappointed, but loving the view

By Roger Vaughan 19/08/2009 10:34:28 PM Comments (0)

Xavier Clarke's "glass half-full" outlook is that his view is the envy of any other AFL spectator.

A knee reconstruction earlier this season meant the 25-year-old has been reduced to an onlooker as his St Kilda team-mates, including younger brother Raphael, have built a near-perfect season.

While Clarke still thinks Geelong are the team to beat, the Saints have been awesome this year and the loss to Essendon on Sunday ended a 19-game winning streak.

Clarke is upbeat, pointing out he has open access to the Saints' inner sanctum.

"I guess what I get the joy out of is that I get to see first-hand the hard work that happens behind the closed doors," he said.

"It is hard to watch it, knowing I can't join in, but I'm as much a part of this team as the boys out there."

Clarke is also encouraged because his rehabilitation from the knee surgery has him on track for a pre-season return.

He is back running and this prompted a cheeky aside to coach Ross Lyon at Wednesday's media conference.

"If you saw me running around today, you might put me in for the first final, Ross," Clarke said.

He has also been smart enough to stay busy during his injury layoff.

Clarke has helped organise an AFL KickStart camp in Melbourne for a group of teenaged indigenous players, brought in from around Australia.

Clarke and Olympic champion Cathy Freeman have been working at the camp as mentors.

"When things like that happen, opportunities open up," said Clarke, who is from the Northern Territory.

"Obviously my first priority is my rehab and getting my knee right and (being) ready for pre-season.

"But it definitely does keep my mind ticking and I would have had a fair bit of spare time on my hands, something like this fairly busy.

Clarke, one of the AFL's steadily-growing contingent of indigenous players, said the teenage footballers had a massive opportunity on and off the field.

"Unfortunately people perceive young aboriginal kids in a different way, down south," said Clarke, who hails from the Northern Territory.

"They've got a great opportunity to change that perception.

"The sooner they do (realise that) and the more leadership qualities they have, they will be great young kids coming through - not just footballers, but great role models for their communities."

Some of the footballers came from remote communities and Clarke said one mother had contacted him, saying her son had never been on a plane and asking how they checked in at the airport.

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