In the lead up to next week’s AFL Draft, Jarrad Gardner caught up with Coburg midfielder Marcus Lentini to discuss his time with the club, how he’s grown in his two seasons at VFL level and how he thinks he can improve at the next level.
Jarrad Gardner: “What does the next week look like for you and how do you prepare going into the draft?”
Marcus Lentini: “The next week will just be relaxing and getting ready for the draft, I’m not really too nervous. I’ll start pre season training with Coburg and I’ll train the whole way through until the draft. I’m just honoured to even have a chance of getting drafted.”
JG: Could you have expected that you’d come into a VFL club and go on to make the team of the year and lead the league in disposals in each of your first two seasons?
ML: “Not at all, I remember when I first got here I just wanted to earn the respect of the boys and just try and get as many games as possible, I didn’t think I was going to play every single game, but it’s been pretty surreal what’s happened in the past two years, a lot of praise should go to the coaches that have helped me prepare for VFL football.”
JG: For people who haven’t watched you before, how would you describe your game?
ML: “I’m a hard working midfielder that loves to be win the contested ball and get the ball going our way. The ability to win my own ball get my own ball and play an important role for the team are my strengths. But I’m still learning and looking forward to being a more complete player too.”
JG: How do you think being in an AFL environment can help your game and make you better?
ML: “I reckon I would thrive in a full time AFL environment, obviously that’s your full time job and you don’t have to work another job during the week so it would be a lot easier on the body. But for now I’m happy at Coburg and thankful for the opportunity to just keep competing against AFL listed players and showing what I can do”
JG: Have you always been a midfielder throughout your junior years?
ML: “In my under 18s I was a bit of a winger so I played on the outside but now I’ve tried to change my game to more of an inside game and try and develop as much as I can. In 2020 and beyond I aim to work on my flexibility to play in various positions which may also help AFL clubs see my versatility”
JG: Later in the 2019 season, opposition teams put a lot of effort into you and you showed that you were able to shake a tag, how do you handle that attention?
ML: “I definitely take that as a compliment but if they’re tagging me they were leaving a couple of very good midfielders in Lochie Dickson and Luke Bunker free to do their job so I back those guys to get the job done if the opposition is trying to target me.”
JG: You got forward more in the latter part of the season to shake those tags and kicked six goals in three games,
ML: “When I was getting tagged I went forward so I was able to lose my opponent but it’s something I would like to add to my game to be able to go forward and kicks goals so it’s hopefully something I can add to my game this year.”
JG: Going back to the start of your time at Coburg, was it an easy choice to pick the club and what swayed your decision?
ML: “It was a very easy decision, when I met with Coburg it seemed like a really positive and family focused club and it was the best opportunity for me to play VFL games and continue to stay relevant to AFL recruiters and to the wider AFL network. It’s so far worked out really well so I’m rapt I picked Coburg.”