JAYDEN Brennan’s seventh senior game was the 2013 Hampden league grand final.
It was the best and worst experience of his fledgling career.
The excitement of pulling on the Koroit jumper and running out on the league’s biggest stage was soon washed away as Warrnambool — having suffered three losses to the Saints throughout the season — ran away with a 37-point win.
Brennan, 18, will line up against the Blues in his 11th senior game in the grand final rematch at Reid Oval tomorrow.
The grand final is still firmly etched in his mind.
“It was an unbelievable experience. I was 17 and it was my first year at Koroit so it was huge for me,” he said.
“It was the biggest game I have ever played in and we were beaten by a better side on the day.”
Koroit enters the rematch against an undefeated Warrnambool side with a 4-1 record.
Brennan said the Saints embraced any chance to test themselves.
“It’s exciting any time you play a good side like Warrnambool,” he said.
“They’re the benchmark of the league so it’s a good indication for us to see where we’re at.
“We’ll go in and put them under pressure and execute the things we want to.”
Brennan is committed full-time to the Saints’ flag dream, having opted out of the TAC Cup system three weeks ago.
The midfielder-forward played in North Ballarat Rebels’ opening three games of his top-age season before making the decision.
Brennan, who played 10 games for the Rebels as a bottom-age player last season, said he carefully considered his options and “weighed it all up”.
“At the Rebels I wasn’t enjoying it and it is a lot of travel and it’s hard with school too,” he said.
“(Saints coach) Adam Dowie has been in the system and Chris McLaren ran the (Rebels’) pre-season in Warrnambool so we spoke to him as well.”
Brennan said he took positives from his time in the state under 18 system — the breeding place for AFL footballers — despite leaving the program early.
“It definitely helps,” he said. “It’s really quick and you learn a lot of stuff you can bring back to Hampden league.”
The former Emmanuel Hawk said he was relishing his time back at Victoria Park.
He’s played the past three games and was second best in the Saints’ win against Camperdown.
“I keep trying to get to as many contests as I can and try and hit the scoreboard too and try and take some pressure off the forwards,” Brennan said.
“That’s something all our midfielders want to do at Koroit.
“You can’t afford to be a one-position player now, you have to adapt,” he said.
Brennan is Emmanuel College school captain, along with South Warrnambool netballer Gen O’Connor.
The year 12 student said he “didn’t see it coming” and that it was a “huge honour”.
He’s unsure of his plans for next year but is contemplating a gap year.
But for now he is focusing on Koroit and another premiership tilt.
“I will get through year 12 and enjoy this year as much as I can with Koroit and hopefully we’ll be successful at the end of the year,” he said.