Mitch Podhajski has been named Round 12’s Lion of the Round after a strong midfield performance in Coburg’s loss to Casey.
The Calder Cannon finished with 26 disposals but his defensive side of the game (10 tackles) was what was most impressive.
After never playing in the midfield before this season, stoppage craft and contested ball where two things Podhajski has been focussing on so far in 2018 but he was thrust into another unfamiliar role on Saturday.
“At half time Patch (coach Leigh Adams) came up to me and let me know that Billy Stretch (Casey midfielder) was up to 19 disposals and had kicked two goals,” Podhajski said, “He asked me to go to him at stoppages and play on him around the ground to hopefully reduce his influence which I thought I did.”
After his blistering opening half, Stretch was limited to just five second half disposals and did not have any further scoreboard impact.
The biggest difference Podhajski has noticed from TAC Cup to VFL football is the pressure that teams apply on the ball carrier.
“At the Cannons, I think there’s that extra second at the contest to find a teammate to give a handball to but at VFL level, you almost need to make your mind up before you get the ball as all VFL clubs I’ve played so far have been so good at applying pressure to the person with the ball,” he said.
Coburg started well against the Demons but could not come away with the win but Podhajski saw a positive in the improved performance of the midfield group compared to recent weeks.
“We knew they (Casey) were an elite one-on-one team at the contest so it was a big focus to beat our man first then try and win the ball,” he said, “That’s probably one area we have been lacking in over the last few weeks so to get that right is a good sign for us going forward, knowing we can compete with any team in that area.”
Podhajski also believes the team has been good at getting at least one aspect of the game plan right each week and thinks the team is not far away from breaking through and getting a win on the board.
“I can’t fault anyone for not trying to get the most out of themselves or us as a team not taking it seriously because we are every training session and I feel it’s only a matter of time when everything clicks for us.”
You can see Podhajski and his teammates in action on Sunday morning when Coburg take on North Melbourne at Avalon Airport Oval.