Clark moves from cub to leading Lion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clark moves from cub to leading Lion

By Sam Lienert 12/09/2009 12:54:14 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane ruckman Mitch Clark says he will take plenty from an AFL season that he began unsure of where he fitted in the Lions side and might end as an All Australian.

The 21-year-old's extraordinary year has been probably the biggest positive to come from a season in which the Lions broke a five-year finals drought.

He started the season with just 22 senior games to his name and no set position.

"I was just a swing sort of guy, didn't really have a position, in the NAB Cup I was playing down back, up forward, then I even ended up on the wing a bit, so I was just sort of filling roles," he said.

But season-ending injuries to what was the first-choice ruck pairing of Jamie Charman and Matthew Leuenberger meant he was forced to carry that job solo from early in the year.

The big-leaping, strong-marking 200cm ruckman has done it so well he has turned what seemed set to be an area of vulnerability into a major weapon for the Lions.

So much so, he is a likely All Australian, after being nominated in the 40-man squad.

He has more than doubled his games tally, playing all 24 of the Lions' matches, including the first two finals of his career.

"It was really unfortunate and sad to see the other two guys go down (Leuenberger) and (Charman)," Clark said.

"Thankfully for me I got the opportunity (to ruck), the coach just gave me a chance and I really enjoyed it, I really enjoy playing for this club and this group of guys.

"I developed my game in the ruck this year and I'll take a lot from this year."

He is uncertain what will happen when Charman and Leuenberger return next season.

It is hard to imagine Clark could be pushed from the ruck, although he has the versatility to play any part of the ground, but his stellar form might persuade Brisbane to put Charman on the trade table.

But before he contemplates next season, Clark will welcome the break, after a gruelling campaign that ended with him needing rests on the bench to counter dizzy spells, including in Friday night's semi-final loss to the Western Bulldogs.

"It's been a long hard year, but I've enjoyed every step of it and I'm just thankful that I've been able to play with the boys and get through a year of footy," he said.

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