Players to learn from Libba’s lethargy

libberWhen the final siren sounded on the 2014 Bench Grand Final I’d lost by a solitary point despite scoring well over 200. So I did what any great coach would do – I looked for someone to blame.

And it didn’t take long for the spotlight to home in on one man.

Tom Liberatore’s 2015 season has been cut short with a knee injury before it started, and Bench recruiters have immediately scurried to the stats sheets to determine who will now become their number one target for their vacant Tackler position.

Not me. I thought of one thing – Karma.

Little Libba had turned in his second worst performance of the year in that Grand Final. Averaging eight tackles a game and twice bringing down 14 opponents in a match, my go-to-man had gone missing.

Unable, or unwilling, to put in an attempt worthy of a game of such importance (despite being oblivious to what was riding on his efforts) he finished with just three tackles and condemned me to a summer of anguish.

Incredibly, it’s not the first time I’ve been stung by Tom and his family. His dad, Tony, the game’s shortest and dirtiest player, stole the 1990 Brownlow Medal from deserving Collingwood wingman, Graham Wright – by a single vote mind you.

I have no association with Graham, but after going on to become a premiership player (like me) for the Pies that same year, well, he’s like family.

But back to the issue at hand.

Does a cruel, season-ending injury to one of the game’s brightest young talents bring me any perverse satisfaction? No.

It does, however, go some way to righting the wrongs of last year. More importantly it sends a strong message to the 20 players lucky enough to find themselves on my list come stumps on Friday night – go missing in the big games and prepare to go missing in the real ones.