WAGGA footballer Dougal Howard hopes his versatility at either end of the ground can help secure his place in Port Adelaide’s finals campaign.
Howard made his return to AFL level in Sunday’s win over Collingwood, his first appearance at the elite level since injuring his knee in June last year.
The 21-year-old showed his versatility by holding down a key position in defence, after playing his early AFL football as a tall forward.
Howard could hardly have picked a better time to return to Port Adelaide’s team with the Power in sixth position with just two games to go before finals.
“Yeah it is (exciting). We’re at the pointy end of the season but I know I’ve got to play each week as it comes and just put my best foot forward and play some consistent footy,” Howard said.
“The SANFL team is playing some really good footy and any slip up and I’ll be out straight away. The main thing is to play some good consistent footy and try to lock down my spot for now.”
Howard said he would love nothing more than to hold his position and experience AFL finals.
“Definitely, it would be awesome to just get a bit of consistency at AFL level and if I could play some finals that would be unreal,” he said.
“I’m not looking that far ahead at the moment. I’m really going to focus on this weekend anyway to make sure I once again put my best foot forward to be selected again.”
He knows his versatility is one thing that will work in his favour.
“I think so. The coaches now see that I can play both ends at AFL level and be versatile so it’s a big tick,” he said.
“Obviously it’s looked at in selection and if I can be more versatile then I’m sure the coaches will be much happier with that. It’s a big thing I’ve worked on coming back from the rehab.”
After playing 14 games at SANFL level in his return from a knee injury, Howard loved the taste of AFL footy again.
“It was fast, it was really hot early,” he said.
“It was the perfect day for footy so it was a pretty awesome game to come back in for. A pretty crucial one for us, coming up to finals, a must win game, so it was pretty awesome getting the win in the end.”
Howard, a product of East Wagga-Kooringal and Wagga Tigers, is loving life in Adelaide. He recently signed a new two-year deal that will keep him at the Power until the end of 2019, at least.
“I’m pretty pumped about that,” he said.