Temora veteran Damien Ponting has shelved retirement thoughts, saying he feels as fresh as ever this season.
The 34-year old will play his 200th first grade game for the Kangaroos on Saturday and credits new coach Christin Macri with breathing new life into his career.
“This year I’ve been handed a leave pass to play my own football and I feel like I’m back fresh,” Ponting said.
“The last few years I started to feel like I wasn’t good enough and I put a lot of pressure on myself.
“But I’ve got a casual role down forward and swapping into the midfield and it’s probably been one of my better seasons.”
Ponting came to Temora for a season in 2003 and never looked back, developing into a favourite son at the club.
“As far as a leader goes, he's obviously previously coached and he's been great for the footy club,” Macri said.
"Early in the year especially, the things I was calling for he was making sure were happening on the field.”
Affectionately known as Rambo, Ponting had played more than 100 first grade games in Tasmania before joining the Kangaroos.
A knee reconstruction after a motorbike accident saw him sit out the 2009 season but he’s only missed two other games in his time at Temora.
“I missed a game for a funeral and I missed a game when my hamstring didn’t feel quite right,” Ponting said.
“I just hate missing football. It’s going to be a bugger when I retire!”
The triple premiership player has forged plenty of mates and memories but that drought-breaking victory in 2012 holds a special place.
“I’d played a lot of my football with Scott Blackwell and when the siren went in that first grand final, I didn’t know if I’d start crying,” he said.
“We'd coached together, we'd played a lot of representative football together, we pretty much lived together and to top it off with that grand final... that was what we came here to do, eight years earlier.
“For some reason, Scotty and I always thought there was going to be success at this club once blokes got the taste for it, and still when I look back on that moment, it was pretty special.”
Temora can sew up a double-chance in the finals with a win at Coleambally on Saturday.
While the unbeaten Hawks have dominated the league this season, Ponting says the emergence of players like Zac Wiencke and Jacob Turner has Temora primed for another tilt.
“Four is not impossible,” he said.
“East Wagga are red hot but finals are funny things. Anything can happen.”
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