WHAT you see is what you get with bruising Young lock Matt Wakefield.
At 33, Wakefield fits the mould of a rugged forward who likes to do what needs to be done.
“I just love playing footy,” Wakefield said.
“It’s no good being half-hearted. You only get hurt that way.”
Shaping up for two critical games in two days, Wakefield is relishing the challenge of helping Group Nine capture the Kelly Cup on Friday night and steadying the ship for Young on Saturday.
Despite an imposing career, which started in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and subsequently carried him to the bush, Wakefield will be making his representative debut for Group Nine against Group 20 at Equex Centre on Friday.
Wakefield, however, admits his “take no prisoners” style is the reason he is a late bloomer in the rep ranks.
“I haven’t played any (rep),” Wakefield said.
“I did get picked to play the last two years, but had to drop out because I was suspended.
“Obviously this is a great opportunity.”
A high school buddy of Young captain-coach Luke Branighan, Wakefield played for Woy Woy in 2013-14 and came with a fearsome and fearless reputation.
Already Wakefield’s power and strength have been a hallmark of Young’s inconsistent Group Nine season.
Wakefield has been a stand out as Young have trashed Tumbarumba, blown a win against Junee, butchered a big lead to draw with Southcity and crashed to a shock loss to Tumut last Saturday.
Taking stock of the four performances, Wakefield said the Cherrypickers had played in patches.
“We turn up 40 minutes and turn off for 40 minutes,” he said.
“We just have lapses. It’s nothing to do with the ability of the boys. We just make silly mistakes, miss tackles and drop the ball.
“Last week against Tumut we just couldn’t hold the ball at all.”
Heading into Saturday’s clash with Kangaroos at Alfred Oval, Wakefield is adamant Young needs to rectify the problems to set the record straight.
“This is a big game for us,” he said.
“I’m confident we’ll win if we turn up and play.”
Wakefield admits the lure of making the Riverina team for the Country Championship holds appeal, but a breakthrough premiership for Young is the priority.
“Club footy always comes first,” he said.
“That’s what I’m here for.”
The Cherrypickers have made a number of changes from last week’s team, with Branighan looking to promote the club’s youth.
Matt Murray and Jayde Hogan had been added to the backline.
“I’ve brought up a few young blokes from the 18s who I’ve been keen to use since the start of the season,” Branighan said.
“They are both very good footballers and keen to improve themselves and play against the men.”
Murray’s inclusion sees Neil Thorman join Branighan in the halves.
Jason Brown is out with an eye injury but Jake Dawe is back after missing the loss to the Blues.
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