Eagle uses long-term injury break for reinvention

HERB Barlow will make his long-awaited senior comeback tomorrow.

The North Warrnambool Eagles utility should play both Hampden league pre-season cup matches at Port Fairy.

Barlow, 29, hasn’t played a senior game since breaking his leg against Camperdown in June 2012.

The recently-appointed Eagles skipper returned to football via the reserves at the end of last season, playing in the Eagles’ last four games and pressing a claim for a surprise senior recall in the finals.

Barlow said he felt fit and prepared for his fourth season at the club.

“It’ll be really good to get back out,” he said.

“At the end of last year I was still at 60 or 70 per cent.

“I wanted to have a crack in the reserves and make sure I could still do it.”

Barlow said the fracture had healed well.

“It’s really good. I haven’t had any issues with it, which is encouraging actually,” he said.

The former assistant coach was anointed Eagles captain in the pre-season.

Barlow said it was a “massive honour” to lead the Bushfield-based club, which is striving to better its 2013 preliminary final finish.

“I won’t change much about how I go about training and be around the club,” he said.

“I’ve always had a fair bit to say being assistant coach.”

The Eagles start their season against Camperdown on April 5.

Barlow said North Warrnambool Eagles, despite losing the bulk of its 2013 scoring power in David Haynes, Robbie Gregg and Jake Myles, was well primed for another finals assault under new coach Bernard Moloney.

“I think we had a few go and few come, which is pretty much par for the course,” he said.

“The vibe over pre-season’s been good with Bernie and he has thrown a few different thoughts at us and numbers are good at the minute. It’s picking up at the moment.”

Barlow said the Eagles believed they were still capable of being a force and were aiming for finals.

“That’s always the target at this time of year,” he said.

“We’ll sit down and reassess after playing a few games.

“At the minute, I can’t see any reason why not.

“We are not going to change completely but with a new coach there will be different tactics thrown out there, a few tweaks.”

Moloney said Barlow would play a different role.

“He has trimmed down a bit from when he was playing forward and in the ruck,” he said.

“He will have quite a different role than that. He’ll be going through the middle.

“He has picked up his mobility a lot.”

Moloney praised Barlow for the way he’d dealt with his injury.

“He is a good story because he had the bad break in his leg and stuck with the club through that and the club stuck by him,” he said. “It’s a good story for young blokes around the football club about loyalty and hard work.”

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