Injury cruels Staker’s return
Tuesday, 1st April, 2014
By Peter Argent
After a heroic return from two knee reconstructions last year, Broken Hill Robin and Brisbane Lions utility Brent Staker is again dealing with the frustration of injury.
“I have a tendon/calf issue behind my left knee,” Staker told the BDT.
“I’ve been battling this since the pre-season and have been on a modified program for January and February.
“The fitness people have changed up my training protocol.
“I’m still not doing any weight-bearing training.”
Staker thinks his return in a best-case prognosis is between six and seven weeks away. This would mean he’d need to play with the Lions’ NEAFL team for a couple of weeks and might return in round nine, or after the club’s round 10 bye.
“To say the least, it is very frustrating. It is a ten out of ten on the frustration scale,” Staker mused.
“I really enjoyed my return to senior footy last year and felt I made an impact when I came back.
“Our trip to Arizona for two and half weeks in November was very productive.
“The tasks we undertook included hiking, bike riding and team building activities, along with the traditional football training.”
Now 29, (he turns 30 on May 23) Staker has now been in the AFL for 11 years.
He started with the West Coast Eagles in 2003 - kicking a couple of goals in his debut match against Hawthorn - and last traversed the nation to become a Brisbane footballer in 2010.
In his seven years in Perth, Staker played 110 games and kicked 84 goals. He also played on the biggest stage of all in the 2005 Grand Final loss to Sydney.
Despite missing the entire 2012 season and a large chunk of the previous year because of knee injuries, Staker has played 44 games at the Lions so far, reaching his 150 AFL game milestone late last year.
The Lions have appointed a new coach for this season, former three-time premiership defender Justin Leppitsch.
“Leppa is very structured with his game plan and consistent with his message,” Staker said.
“It is a basic game structure, but effective and easy to implement. My discussions have suggested that he is keen to use me, once fit, predominantly as a third tall forward.
“The idea is to see if we can generate some mismatches.”
After missing so much football in the immediate past, Staker does however enjoy the security of a playing contract to the end of the 2015 season.
One of the few genuine swing players in the AFL who can be equally effective in attack or defence, Staker stands 196cm tall and weighs 100kg.
During 2012 he immersed himself in other areas of the club, including a role as the Reserves forward line coach and, later, runner in the NEAFL under Reserves Coach Nathan Clarke, which may be a pointer to his future.