IF you only looked at Kayne O’Brien’s past couple of seasons, you might think that Warrnambool and his former club West Gambier share a similar trait — being successful.
They’ve both played in the last two grand finals in Hampden and Western Border league respectively, with West completing its bid for back-to-back flags while the Blues fell short.
But going back before 2010, a winning culture was something West Gambier could only dream about.
The club, the only one that O’Brien had called home, was a perennial battler.
“We struggled for a long time,” he said. “We always used to finish second or third bottom.
“(In 2010) we had a lot of players who had played at a higher level in Adelaide and they all came back at once.
“With all the young ones we already had, we just gelled.
“I suppose you learn a fair bit when you’re losing a lot but (winning’s better).”
O’Brien, who turned 20 last November, is fresh from successive senior Western Border premierships, rating the 2010 flag as the slight favourite.
“Just because we broke a 39-year premiership drought,” he said of the Roos’ second flag.
Today he will make his debut for a club that has an enviable 23 senior premierships to its name — Hampden league powerhouse Warrnambool.
The Blues meet rival South Warrnambool in this afternoon’s grand final rematch at Friendly Societies’ Park.
O’Brien is a second-year Deakin University health science student who trained with Warrnambool each Tuesday night last season.
“Then I travelled back home to play for West,” he said. “I always planned to go back and play for them the first year, then stay here the second year. I got along with everyone at Warrnambool pretty well.”
The half-back flanker and wingman said he aimed to have an influence in attack and defence each game.
“I just try and stop my player from getting a kick, then I try and create the play if I can,” he said.
“I think we’ll be a hard-running side and we’ll try and play flow-on footy.”
O’Brien, who lives on campus at Deakin, said Warrnambool was looking fit ahead of today’s season-opener.
“We’ve been training pretty well,” he said.
“I think everyone’s pretty keen to get started this week.”