JOE Dalton’s role as South Warrnambool co-captain steps up to a new level today.
The versatile running player enters the match-of-the-round contest with arch rival Warrnambool without his co-captain Jarrod Thompson.
Thompson, who had surgery on Monday to repair four fractures in his left eye socket and cheek bone, is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks.
That leaves the 21-year-old to shoulder the captaincy and more than likely Thompson’s role in the midfield.
But the added responsibility doesn’t worry Dalton.
“We rotate the captaincy every second week,” he said.
“Normally when I’ve been doing it on my own Jarrod has let me do it my way. It’s really good having Tigger (Thompson) and Finny (Danny Finn) there as well.”
Dalton, who spent six weeks with SANFL club South Adelaide Panthers during the pre-season, said the experience and increased fitness work had given him an edge so far this season.
He had moved to Adelaide with the epectation of staying there and trying his hand at a higher level of football. But Dalton, an apprentice plumber, returned to Warrnambool after his job fell through. While he was working as a labourer, he opted to return home where he is half-way through his apprenticeship with South member Pat Kavanagh.
“I was ready to shift over there but I want to get my apprenticeship out of the way,” he said.
“When I came back to do the second half of the pre-season at South I had a better fitness base because there’s a lot more compulsory sessions (over there). Everything improved strength-wise and running-wise. I’ve got to maintain that now.”
Dalton said he wouldn’t always stay at South.
“Right now I’m happy at South, but I would like to try and play state footy before I get too old. I want to have a go at a higher level,”he said.
“I love playing for South.
“We’ve had some success the last couple of years with the two grand finals.
“When I first started playing we were down in the dumps.”
Dalton, who is joined in the side by his younger brother Ben, said he enjoyed having his sibling alongside him.
They grew up kicking the footy with each other and enjoy a strong bond on the field.
“We like to muck around but Ben is pretty good — if he’s done something wrong, he listens to me as a captain.
“He’s been going well. It was something I’ve wanted to do (play in the same team as him).
“But with the side so strong last year he didn’t get as much of an opportunity as he would have liked but now he’s getting some game time.”
Dalton, who grew up in Hamilton and played his first year of under 14s at Koroit, said he was aware of the fierce rivalry between his side and today’s opponent Warrnambool.
“We would love to win this week,” he said.
“It’s Warrnambool at Reid Oval, it’s without Jarrod Thompson.
“If we got a win, it would go a long way to giving us more confidence and belief.
“If we don’t, it’s not the end of the world.
“The rivalry does grow the longer you are here, especially the last couple of years with us playing in grand finals.
“But once it’s all over, I have a lot of good mates at Warrnambool.”