By Murray Wenzel, Cairns Post
Back from injury and with a face full of metal, Charlie Dixon is on a mission to become one of the enforcers of the AFL.
The Cairns junior has defied three separate injuries already this season to force his way into the Gold Coast Suns’ side in time for a return to Cazalys on Saturday.
Quadricep and groin complaints were followed by a shattered cheekbone in round seven that required three plates in and around his left eye.
He still cannot feel one side of his face, but it’s no drama for the AFL’s newest man of steel.
“It was a pretty big surgery and the nerve damage is only very slowly going away. But it’s stronger than ever now and not a worry,” he said.
It’s that kind of attitude that is required to match his big, strong presence that has caught the attention of AFL pundits across the country. Used in the forward line and defence last weekend against Geelong, Dixon is unsure where he will line up this weekend.
But he knows it is that bullocking, no fear approach that his coach will be looking for.
“These injuries have been unfortunate, but I’m fighting, trying to play hard and prove I deserve my spot,” he said.
Injured teammate Nathan Bock, who Dixon struck up a bond with in their debut season, said his protege was doing all the right things to solidify himself at AFL level.
“His form has been good, he’s turned a corner professionally,” Bock said. “Personally, I like him as a forward-ruck. But either way he’s a competitive big guy that can provide a target for us.”
Dixon said coach Guy McKenna had noticed his advancement, too. “As my coach has told me, I’ve matured a bit more. But you’re always learning; I’ve got to keep my head down,” he said.
He will apply his new maturity in the lead-up to Saturday’s game, after a horror homecoming last year that saw him subbed off mid-game.
“I don’t know what happened last year. I probably approached it the wrong way; over-thought it. I’ve got a totally different mindset and I’m much fitter this year.”
And buoyed by their ability to run with the Cats until the final siren in their narrow 14-point loss on Sunday, Dixon is adamant they can continue their 100 per cent record in the Far North.
“If you’re not going into every game thinking you can win, you shouldn’t be playing,” he said. “We need to play tough footy, smack in there and compete.”
Dixon arrives with the playing group tomorrow, while injured pair Bock and Daniel Gorringe touched down yesterday.
The pair, along with AFL’s development boss Andrew Dillon, will tour Cape York today and tomorrow conducting clinics and encouraging school participation as part of the No Boundaries Partnership program with AFL Cape York.
Republished courtesy of Cairns Post: http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2012/07/11/227851_local-sport-news.html