CALM AND COLLECTED: Geelong's Cameron Mooney kicked three goals against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday. Mooney is putting his days in front of the AFL tribunal behind him to focus on his game.
Tuesday, February 25
Geelong Advertiser _ Scott Morton
REFORMED Geelong forward Cameron Mooney still plays his football on the edge - a hair-trigger temper that threatens to explode every time he steps out over the white line onto the football field.
Two years ago it often did and he found himself a tribunal regular, but last year he cleaned up his act; the rap sheet was clean at the end of the season and that's the way he plans to keep it in 2003.
Now, with his anger in check, Mooney wants to erase the inconsistent form that has dogged him during his time at Geelong.
``In the back of my mind I know I've got to play more games and kick more goals and help out Kent (Kingsley) because he pretty much carried the forward line last year and he needs a hand down there,'' Mooney said.
On Sunday against the Western Bulldogs, in the Wizard Cup, Mooney took the first step in that journey, kicking three goals.
But he knows if he slips up there are now a handful of young and hungry key-position players eager for the chance to prove they have the mettle to succeed in a key position.
``You do feel the pressure because the boys this year, Henry Playfair and Matthew McCarthy, have really come on and it makes you pull your finger out,'' he said.
The turning point in Mooney's football career came at the end of season 2001.
It was then that the 23-year-old sat down with coach Mark Thompson and was bluntly told to clean up his act or he'd be shown the door after missing five games through suspension.
``I sat down with Bomber at the end of 2001 and he told me to pull my head in or I was out of there, so I made it one of my goals last year not to get reported,'' Mooney said.
He didn't, but inconsistent form saw him dropped for three games after round eight against Port Adelaide and it proved a reality check.
``It was probably the best thing that could have happened because I went back and got a few kicks and the confidence went up and I came back and started to get a few kicks,'' he said.
It wasn't lost on Thompson, and now he hopes Mooney can keep his mind on his game in 2003 and play the way he knows he can.
``He hasn't had a full season of consistent footy and that's the challenge for him,'' Thompson said.
``A lot of his good games haven't been full games, they've been half games,
but the half game you get is very, very good.''