A change is as good as a holiday. And after a lengthy break for a knee reconstruction, Tim Smith is lapping up a change of scenery at Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes.
A premiership player with East Wagga-Kooringal in 2016, Smith tore his anterior cruciate ligament in July 2017.
When finally it came time to return to football, he opted to make the move to the Riverina League and play under his old Belconnen coach, Jeremy Rowe, at the Goannas.
"We had a good relationship when I played under him previously, in 2015, and I'm loving it," Smith said.
"It's very enjoyable, you know what you get with Rowey, and I think he gets the best out of his players.
"I think the time away from footy and going to a new league and new club, it's definitely refreshed me. I'm enjoying my time out there, and it's got that real country footy feel."
But Smith concedes it's taken him a little while to find his feet after a long layoff.
"It's probably taken longer than I thought it would to find some consistency in my game," he said.
"It's something I didn't really think of but it was 20 months since I last played. I just had to keep at it, keep turning up to training and doing the hard yards and hopefully the performances will come my way."
Smith has enjoyed a switch from full-back to centre-half-back with MCUE, and the opportunity it offers to influence the game.
Against Griffith on Saturday, having a big influence is going to be essential. The Swans have kicked 38 goals in their last two games.
"They've been the benchmark this year and probably for a couple of years. They're the undefeated team and deserve all the respect for that but if we turn up and play our best, I think we can give it a shake," Smith said.
Griffith broke a seven-year losing streak at Mangoplah last year. And they'll arrive this year in ominous form and with obvious danger.
Forward Jacob Conlan kicked 10 goals at Ganmain last week, and five in another best-on-ground effort against Leeton-Whitton the week before.
"To be honest, I don't know much about him but when someone kicks 10 goals, you pay them respect," Smith said.
"That's a good effort But whoever matches up on him will give it a good crack."
Smith said the Goannas continue to keep the focus on their own game as they approach a season-defining stretch. They've had two wins in six games and sit a win outside the five. But in the next five weeks, they play the top three teams as well as fifth and seventh.
If they're to be in the mix, it might be on the back of some teammates who Smith has enjoyed playing alongside.
"I've been really impressed with Nick McCormack, he's so hard at the footy and the sort of player who can pick the team up. And probably George Kendall, I think he would've marked it 16 or 17 times last week at half-forward. He's a big force out there," Smith said.
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