Mis­sion ac­com­plished as nig­gle pays off

Geelong Advertiser - - FOOTY FIX - ALEX OATES

RHYS Burke was never go­ing to let Michael Best get out of his sight.

Tasked with shut­ting down the In­ver­leigh ball-magnet, Burke had ar­guably the toughest task of the GDFL grand fi­nal. He nig­gled, up­set and ag­i­tated the smooth-mov­ing Best in a per­for­mance that went a long way to win­ning the Pan­thers a sev­enth flag.

“That was my role,” Burke said. “I just had to stop his run, he’s very good off half­back and if you give him space he cuts you up pretty easy.

“It wasn’t about how many pos­ses­sions I got or how many goals I got, it was about mak­ing sure I was within arm’s dis­tance of him and nig­gle him.

“I didn’t do any­thing stupid or give away any free kicks. I just blocked his run and made things hard for him.”

There were words ex­changed be­tween the pair, and heck­les from the In­ver­leigh crowd, but Burke main­tains he did not sledge Best.

“I’m a bit of ad — khead on the ground but there’s no point lip­ping him,” Burke said.

“He’s a good player and if I revved him up he prob­a­bly would’ve had 40 (touches),” he said. Best did man­age to get off the leash at times, driv­ing the Hawks for­ward with his run and carry and pre­ci­sion pass­ing. “With a player that good, you can’t stop him for four quar­ters of footy,” Burke said.

“He’s still go­ing to get his fair share of the footy and set it up at times. He’s very hard to stop but I tried my best and hope­fully I did my job for the team. “I know he didn’t have 30 and kick three (goals) like he has in the last few weeks, so I kept him a lot qui­eter than usual. In terms of the team’s game, I think I might have come out even.”

Burke ad­mit­ted he was anx­ious about his stop­ping role on Best, hav­ing been as­signed the job by coach Brad Martin early in the week.

“I was pretty ner­vous go­ing into the grand fi­nal, play­ing on a guy who has set ev­ery­thing up in the last cou­ple of weeks,” he said.

Rhys Burke spoils In­ver­leigh star Michael Best’s mark.

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