Hawks had doubts on Roughead’s ruck role
Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead says some at the AFL club doubted he could handle a ruckman’s workload this season, but not him.
Last year, the 25-year-old watched on as his team’s season ended in preliminary final heartbreak.
An Achilles tear sustained in round 12 ended his year and contributed to him not making it back until round two this season.
His successful comeback to partner David Hale as a forward-ruck is one reason the Hawks are beautifully placed to go a step or two further this year.
But Roughead said that despite having successfully converted from permanent forward to part-time ruckman before the injury, there were reservations about him reprising that role.
“I don’t think everyone was real keen on me doing it, just because of the workload and what happened last year,” Roughead told AAP on Thursday.
It was his own conviction he had the durability that eventually persuaded the Hawks hierarchy.
“I went to them and said, `I don’t know why we’re putting a blanket over things, I reckon I can do it,’” Roughead said.
“I suppose knowing I had that confidence gave them the confidence.”
Roughead’s dual role has increased the Hawks’ versatility compared to using a specialist ruckman such as Max Bailey.
Added forward depth helps, allowing the Hawks’ attack to be without him for significant stints, with five Hawks having kicked 35 or more goals this year.
In only one of the previous five years has a player other than Roughead or Lance Franklin reached that mark, Mark Williams in Hawthorn’s 2008, when the club last won the flag.
The continued emergence of Luke Breust, improvement of Cyril Rioli and arrival of ex-Adelaide forward Jack Gunston has added potency, while Roughead has still delivered 41 goals.
He much prefers rucking to being fulltime in attack.
“You can go and get it and have a bit of a run around and have the freedom of knowing there’s not going to be a defender banging and crashing into you all day,” he said.
Not that the 193cm player escapes a physical battering in the ruck.
Regardless of who wins Friday night’s Adelaide-Fremantle semi-final, he will concede substantial height and weight in ruck battles in Saturday week’s MCG preliminary final.
Notably, Dockers giant Aaron Sandilands has 18cm and 22kg over Roughead.
Roughead says against such opponents he aims to limit their hit-out influence then comes into his own once the ball hits the ground.
“You’re a bit closer to the ground, which helps,” he said.© AAP 2013
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