‘It is a pinch yourself moment’

Published 1:30pm 24 January 2023

‘It is a pinch yourself moment’
Words by Kylie Knight

The Dolphins’ Euan Aitken says intensity is building in preseason training as the squad prepares for their first trial in just over a week and round one in five weeks.

Some already rusted-on fans watched the players train in the light rain this morning and a couple of Redcliffe State High School boys on bicycles rode past slowly, naming the famous faces they recognised on their way to school.

It’s the pointy end of preseason, with players put through another tough skills and strength and conditioning session.

Check out the photo gallery at the end of this story

With his eye on playing in the centres, Aitken is relishing the chance to be coached by one of the best in the game and his return to the Redcliffe Peninsula, where he and his family are now based.

“I spent the last year here with the Warriors, the transition was easy for me and my family. It makes it a little bit easier but obviously there’s still competition for spots in that round one side and all I’m doing is working towards that,” Aitken says.

He is training in the centres, a position Bennett suggested he focus on during a passing conversation when Aitken was in his mid-teens and playing in the St George system.

“I had a chat to Wayne (when signing with the Dolphins) and that’s where he wanted me to have a crack at. He thought that would probably be the best thing for the team,” Aitken says.

“I’m excited to be back in the centres. It’s going to be a good challenge for me, there’s a lot of competition for spots in this backline. I’m ready to attack that head-on and hopefully get a round one centre spot.”

So, what does he like about playing in the centres?

“It’s just the attacking options. It’s a very big challenge in the centres, defensively. I like when you get that one-on-one opportunity to attack against opposing centres,” he explains.

‘It is a pinch yourself moment’

Playing under Bennett

When asked how Bennett’s disciplined style compares to other coaches, Aitken says he’s a straight-talker on the field but the banter is good off it.

“He’s pretty old fashioned in that sense. He demands pretty high stands. He wants your best and your worst to be a very small gap and wants consistency as well. That’s all we’re trying to work for and get our combinations right for the year coming,” he explains.

“You’ve seen him coach champion teams and all the work he’s done and the players that have played their best footy … that was definitely a big thing for me coming here. I want to play the best footy I can.

“It is a pinch yourself moment, to work with one of the best in the game.”

Aitken says the squad is working hard to impress Bennett and his coaching team to earn their place in the starting side.

“It’s very intense. There’s a lot of competition for different spots on the field so everyone’s trying to train as hard as they can to get picked,” he says.

“The young lads will probably have that first trial to get a bit of game time. It’s come around quick this year with obviously the World Cup, so some of the boys have only been training for a few weeks. To hear it’s five weeks until round one … it’s a little bit scary but we’re going to be ready by the time it comes around.”

Check out the photo gallery

Photos by Dominika Lis

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