Work hard if you want to kick on

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - COLIN VICK­ERY NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

The 15 hope­fuls com­pet­ing in The Re­cruit don’t know what’s in store for them says the show’s head coach, Mick Malt­house.

Con­tes­tants are chas­ing an elu­sive dream — to be signed to an AFL club. For one rea­son or an­other they have never made it and The Re­cruit is prob­a­bly their last chance.

Malt­house played 53 games for St Kilda and an­other 121 at Richmond, in­clud­ing a Premier­ship. But it is his coach­ing suc­cess that has made him a le­gend.

Af­ter a stint at Footscray, he coached the West Coast Ea­gles to 1992 and 1994 Pre­mier­ships. He got Colling­wood into four Grand Fi­nals, win­ning in 2010.

Malt­house knows the sac­ri­fices these young men are go­ing to have to make if they want to reach the elite level.

“You get robbed of your youth (if you play AFL),” Malt­house says. “If you’ve got out­side in­ter­ests they’re go­ing to (stay that way). If you want to do a de­gree, it will be four times slower (than if you didn’t play AFL). You are re­spon­si­ble for your life, the club’s rep­u­ta­tion and your team’s rep­u­ta­tion 24 hours a day.”

For­mer Hawthorn cham­pion and Fox Footy com­men­ta­tor Ben Dixon is Malt­house’s as­sis­tant on The Re­cruit, Port Ade­laide fit­ness guru Darren Burgess is high per­for­mance coach, and sports ad­min­is­tra­tor Leigh Rus­sell is mind coach.

Com­peti­tors will be put through a range of phys­i­cal and team chal­lenges.

Each week, one re­cruit is elim­i­nated.This year’s batch in­cludes 22-year-old Ja­son Wil­liams, from Mel­bourne, an ap­pren­tice plumber who reck­ons com­pla­cency stopped him suc­ceed­ing.

Daniel Cox, a gar­den labourer from Broome in West Aus­tralia, was nearly drafted in 2013 but missed the cut.

Matt Ea­gles, now 26, is an­gry at him­self be­cause he chose partying over footy.

“It is no ac­ci­dent some play­ers fail (to make AFL stan­dard),” Malt­house says.

“Some is just cir­cum­stance — where they lived, what club they were play­ing at, where they were work­ing, age got away from them. “Don’t blame other peo­ple. “The only way for­ward is work­ing hard. That is fun­da­men­tal. The other things I be­lieve in greatly are team, friend­ship and loy­alty.

“If you can’t be any of those, move away ... I didn’t want to send a player there (to an AFL club) that was ill-equipped. With good coach­ing over a pe­riod of 12 months you should see a dra­matic shift if the player has the right at­ti­tude.”

THE RE­CRUIT, FOX8, TONIGHT, 8.30PM

/ SARAH MATRAY

Mick Malt­house is look­ing for com­mit­ment.

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