Mission accomplished as niggle pays off
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.