Sidelined spy

ON WATCH: David Spriggs at Hawks training at Glenferrie Oval this week.  

Geelong Advertiser

DAVID Spriggs might be a year out of football with a serious knee injury but the young Geelong midfielder is learning to be the complete clubman.

And the 21-year-old says he will be a better footballer for the experience.

Spriggs tore his anterior cruciate and lateral ligaments in December, jumping and landing awkwardly in sand dunes in Lorne.

One of Spriggs' roles this year has been forward scout for the Cats and he says it has given him a greater understanding of the game.

``When we're playing Melbourne teams I go and watch them and find out who looks like they're going to be playing and who's not, and also get some drills for the fitness guys, they like to know,'' he said.

Which is why Spriggs was spotted sitting high up in the Glenferrie Oval stand on Tuesday and Friday, notebook in hand, watching the Hawks train.

``The other day I noticed that, because Nathan Thompson is out, they had Robert Campbell rucking in the middle with a coach and Shane Crawford,'' he said.

``They're the things that I take back. It will probably take them (the club) a little while to trust me but they usually go on the ones that I say, I think they'll play.''

Because he's injured, Spriggs is also often the first one the club calls on for media commitments and football clinics.

``If someone rings up, they say `Spriggsy will do it because he's injured' and they know they can always plan on me for August because I'll still be injured,'' he said.

``I guess that's part of being at a club though, someone's got to do it and I guess it's almost like a little bit of punishment for me in a way.

``As much as you like to help out the club that sort of thing can get a little bit tedious but most of the time you really enjoy it.''

Spriggs, who played every game last year, says watching from the sidelines can be tough, particularly with the young Cats doing so well, but it has also given him a fresh insight into the game.

``Sitting back and watching us play, it's a lot different because I've never had the opportunity to sit there and watch,'' he said.

``I guess it puts you in a position where you get the big picture on how everything works.

``When I get back I'll have a lot better vision about where people are and where they go on the ground.

``Going to watch other teams train you also get an idea about how their good players train and you can learn a bit that way too.''

Because he's young but has some experience under his belt, Spriggs has also taken on a mentor role for many of Geelong's young guns.

``I'm still young so it's easy for me to get along with the players and make friends with the young guys coming through,'' he said.

``Some of these guys like (James) Bartel and (Gary) Ablett have come in and taken guys' spots who have been around for years and it can be seen as a threat by some people.

``That's how I felt anyway and so you tell them that's the way it is and they'll get over it.

``I can help them and get into their heads and pull them through a flat spot, or if they're getting a bit too far ahead of themselves to pull them back in because I've been down that same path.''

Five months after injuring his knee, Spriggs is back running in a straight line with a brace for added support.

He says he is 85 per cent of the way back, but is not entertaining any thoughts of returning this year, even if the Cats make the finals.

``The surgeon and club are being cautious. I'm working hard but I'm not going to be stupid. I'm doing what they tell me but nothing extra, which is where I think a lot of guys go wrong,'' he said.