Wednesday, March 26
YOU would think after 11 seasons Brenton Sanderson wouldn't be struck by butterflies a few days out from the AFL's opening round.
However, the Geelong vice-captain yesterday freely admitted to having a dose of pre-game jitters.
``I'm definitely feeling the nerves. When I was driving to training today I was thinking it's the second best week in footy, aside from grand final week when the nerves are probably heightened,'' he said.
``Every team is on an even footing and you're not sure what to expect from some clubs.
``You hope everything goes to plan and that all the training you have done over summer pays off.''
Sanderson is also hoping a new season will bring him a change of fortune after calf and ankle injuries restricted him to 12 games in 2002. His output was in stark contrast to the previous season when he played every minute in 2001, and won the club's best and fairest.
What the past two seasons have shown him is how quickly life can change.
The misfortunes of his team-mates Jason Snell, who retired after a career-ending ankle break, and David Spriggs, returning this year from a knee reconstruction, also made him acutely aware that you can't look too far ahead.
Contracted to the Cats until 2004, Sanderson hopes he will see out his career at the club, but at 29 years of age he's not sure how long that will be.
``You set yourself goals and see where you would like to be but I think it would be foolish to look too far ahead,'' he said.
``You can't plan for injuries and last year I had a really bad one. You just have to take your medicine when they happen.''
On the eve of his 150th club game (he also played six at Adelaide and four at Collingwood), however, he's more worried about Sunday's game against the Western Bulldogs at Telstra Dome.
He also wants to repay the faith which coach Mark Thompson has put in him by giving him the deputy job.
``Bomber's been great for me. He's taken my career to the next level,'' Sanderson said.
Part of a strong leadership unit under the captaincy of Steven King, Sanderson said the squad was full of players who were not only exceptional footballers, but also had strong values.
``I sense a real feeling of being on the verge of something pretty special,'' he said about the current crop of players.
The season opener is where it all starts and Sanderson can't wait.