The Western Magpies are the clubhouse leader for signing of the off-season, with Brent Staker putting pen to paper to pull on the black and white in 2016.
Staker’s familiarity with the Magpies, and his first hand experience of what they stand for meant a move to Chelmer was always going to be a good fit.
“I’ve known about the Magpies and their great community base since I moved here in 2009,” he said.
“I know they went through a bit of trouble in the floods in 2011. Friends of mine from Western Australia were over here helping clean up, so I was out here for a few days and got to know a few people, and obviously people behind the scenes and on the board I know as well. It is a good fit, and they have always struck me as a good club, so I think it’s a great move.”
While offers to play NEAFL were tabled to him, Staker said the mix between football, family, and life was the reason he wants to play in the QAFL.
“I had to weigh up how much footy I wanted in my life. With the NEAFL you’ve got to have a bit more commitment, dedicate a bit more time during the week, plus the weekends. I just felt after 13 years in the AFL it was time to step back,” he said.
“I just want to enjoy a couple of nights training, and fully commit game day. That’s what suits me for where I am at and what I want to get out of my footy.”
Staker was selected at pick 37 in the 2002 AFL National Draft by the West Coast Eagles, where he would go on to play 110 games across seven seasons.
In 2010, he was traded to the Brisbane Lions, running out a further 50 times over six years.
Staker called time on his 160 game AFL career at the end of the 2015 season, and while there were offers to head back to Perth, remaining in the Sunshine State was the logical choice.
“There were some very good offers. East Fremantle was the club I was affiliated with when I was at the West Coast Eagles. The coaches that are on board there are all good friends of mine, but it was whether I wanted to take the plunge and leave Queensland,” he said.
“My girlfriend is from Queensland, so the decision to hang around here, combined with the opportunities here in Brisbane, was the right thing to do.”
Despite no longer playing at the elite level, the competitive fire still burns within him.
“I’ve had a few shocker years, I hardly played a game due to injuries for about three years. The footy desire is still really strong. I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t want to play footy,” Staker said.
“This will be a good year for me learning wise, stepping out of the AFL, still playing footy, and figuring out the next phase after AFL footy and how much I want to play.”
With a young group around him, Staker will instantly become a leader around Poweyenna Oval, not that it will be anything new to him.
“No doubt the footy club here will be hoping I can provide some strong voice on field, and guide these younger kids. I’m not a guy that goes off at players out there, I’m a guy who makes sure players know what the best decision is, or how to improve. If I can lead in that way, help players improve, and give them confidence, then that will be my role,” he said.
Forging an AFL career as a utility means Staker could line up anywhere next year, but he expects the majority of his time to be spent at one end.
“On field, ill be probably mostly up forward and occasionally run through the midfield. I’ll mostly be trying to kick a goal and get the crowd involved,” he laughed.
After a standout first season at the Lions, injuries restricted Staker to just 28 games over the next five seasons.
Despite that, he is confident of staying out on the park next year.
“I’ve taken some hits to the shins with the big stick with some injuries over the last few years, but I’m confident,” Staker said.
“With the two nights training here, and with my own stuff I do outside of footy to keep my body right, I know I’ll be right, and will keep my body in good shape.
“I’ve never been one to abuse my body, I’ve naturally got it engrained in me to keep my body right and look after it.”
Outside of the Magpies, Staker will play a key role in the Simon Black Academy on the Gold Coast, as his commitment to helping the next generation of stars continues.
And in a romantic sub story, Staker will pull on the number 18 jumper next year. A jumper his father made famous in Broken Hill, a jumper that was then retired until Brent wore it as a 16 year old, and a jumper that hasn’t been worn since there.
Make no doubts about it, the key position stakes of the Magpies just went up, as did their scoring power.
Staker will join the rest of the group in their final training session of the year on Wednesday night.
By Andrew Wiles