One game of footy in Queensland, one Syd Guildford nomination. Not a bad start to a Queensland footy career for Palm Beach recruit Jon Croad.
Croad, who hails from Victoria, made the move from the Sorrento Football Club to Palm Beach over summer, and the big fella made an instant impact around Salk Oval.
He rotated between the ruck and deep forward in the Lions win over UQ on Saturday, bagging three goals, including two when the game was in the balance in the second quarter.
The 24 year old said he was always expecting his first run to be a tough one, but enjoyed the extra responsibility bestowed on him.
“It thought it was always going to be hard, it’s a bit different up here, the heat is a lot different after playing in Victoria,” he said.
“It’s definitely more open, and the ball flows a lot quicker. I’m used to playing in a more experienced, older team down in Victoria, I was more one of the younger blokes down there, but up here it seems like I’m one of the older blokes, who has to show a bit of leadership.”
He also thinks it has helped take his game to a new level.
“It’s definitely making me more of a leader. When I was a younger guy in an older team, I could afford to sit back a bit and let the others do it. It’s definitely helping my game, letting the younger guys learn something off me,” Croad said.
Rocking up to a new club, in a new state, knowing one person can be a daunting task, but Croad felt right at home from day dot.
“It’s always a bit different not knowing anyone, you’re not sure if you are going to like it or not, but I knew Jarryd Douglas so that helped having someone,” he said.
“It didn’t take long though, they are a great bunch of blokes, I settled in really easy and I’m loving it.”
The versatility of Croad will be a massive plus for the Lions this year. Where he wants to play, and where he will play the best footy are different things though.
“I like playing across half-back, watching the game unfold, but everyone always says I play my best footy in the ruck, so maybe I’m just in denial,” Croad laughed.
He’s keeping things pretty simple goal wise this year.
“I’m just hoping to have a really good year, get some fitness out of it and play some good footy for the club. Even become a bit better of a leader, and help the younger guys out at Palmy,” Croad said.
It’s early in the year, but a bloke of his stature, and his ability to influence the contest could take the QAFL by storm.
Morningside will have to have a serious think about how they will stop him when they play on Saturday at Jack Esplen Oval.
By Andrew Wiles