THE first Camperdown key position player Nick Bateman knew of his inclusion in Hampden’s interleague training squad was a phone call from The Standard yesterday morning.
“I’m very surprised,” the 25-year-old said. “There are a lot of good backmen around.”
But for league observers, including coach Nick O’Sullivan, he was a walk-up starter to be included in the initial training squad.
He has been a standout in defence in his two games for the Magpies this season, including holding the league’s star forward Jason Rowan to two goals a fortnight ago.
“I watched him against North Warrnambool Eagles and he was really good at centre half-back,” O’Sullivan said.
“We know he can go forward or back and pinch hit in the ruck.”
He ticks the versatility box on O’Sullivan’s prerequisites.
Bateman, who played interleague at under 18 level about seven years ago, said he was thrilled just to be given an opportunity to push for selection.
He said selector Kevin Russell had indicated his name had come up in discussions but he was delighted to get the nod alongside Magpies teammates Luke Mahony and coach Dan Casey. He said his impressive start to the season was the result of a big pre-season. “I lost a bit of weight and did a lot of running which I needed to do,” he said.
“I dropped about eight kilograms over the summer and got down as low as 85 kilograms but that was a bit too skinny. I’m at 88 now.” He said the return from Queensland of his housemate and teammate Aaron Davis, a personal trainer, had helped him get into shape.
He said he was eating better and hitting the gym more. “I would love to play interleague,” he said.
The fitter and turner is looking forward to Friday night’s clash against arch rival Cobden. While Bateman’s Magpies are winless after two games, the Bombers are one of three unbeaten teams.
“We have got to win,” Bateman said.
“It’s pretty important for us. It should be a good game. We were better against Warrnambool but we have 10-minute lapses where we are not working hard. It’s not a whole game or a whole quarter that hurts us, just a few lapses here and there.”