Big forward silences the doubters

Friday, April 23

AT 26, Geelong VFL forward Aaron Greaves is used to people telling him he has missed his boat.

Too old and too slow for the big league, said his doubters, who would be most surprised at the half-forward's red-hot start to the VFL season.

Greaves booted six goals in the Cats' VFL win at the weekend, lifting his total to 11 majors from three games.

Inadvertently, Greaves has become the reserves' early-season spearhead, fulfilling a vision VCFL coach Rodney Eade had almost a year ago.

``The thing I liked most about him other than he was big and strong, kicked long and could take a pack mark, was his work ethic,'' Eade said of his Vic Country centre-half forward.

``There's a lot of AFL clubs who haven't got big key forwards and I think he's got a bit to offer, especially at a team like Geelong who haven't got key forwards.''

After an impressive interleague campaign, Eade dubbed the 197cm, 97kg Greaves a potentially ready-made AFL player, urging Geelong to take a punt on the St Joseph's sharp-shooter.

But just a top-up player, Greaves has transformed his disappointment at not being drafted into an all- out assault on what could be his last chance this summer. Something he has heard all too often.

``You do get that a bit and it gets a bit frustrating because you've sort to got to believe it as well because probably only one or two players over the age of 25 get drafted each year,'' Greaves said.

``But being around quality players and training with them all the time, you are only going to get better.

``I'm 26 and I feel my footy is still improving now because of it.''

Admitting to having some initial doubts, Greaves has even surprised himself with his improvements in speed and strength under personal trainer Steven Lewry and his stellar start to the season.

``As each game has gone on I've got more confident and now believe I can play at that level,'' he said.

``Whereas at the start I looked at Matt McCarthy, James Bartel and David Spriggs and thought am I up to this? But a couple of consistent performances later and you realise you are just part of a team.''

The VFL bye has opened up the door for Greaves to play for St Joseph's against Newtown and Chilwell tomorrow but he said an arduous pre-season has already taken its toll and instead will watch from the sidelines.

``I'd love to come back and play for Joeys and help them get a win on the board,'' he said.

``But I've already played nine games this year, including the practice matches and I just need to rest my body,'' he explained.