Back into the breach

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - by Andrew Aloia andrew. aloia@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

C R O C O D I L E S t e e n a g e r T o d d Blanch­field has no choice but to face his in­ner demons tonight.

With Townsville bosses de­cid­ing against trav­el­ling with a 10th man to re­place in­jured swing­man Brad Wil­liamson, t he battle-rav­aged Blanch­field will not be af­forded the lux­ury of eas­ing into his come­back against Mel­bourne.

It’s only five days since he re­turned to the court and lit­tle over 48 hours since he was passed fit to play af­ter spend­ing a month on the side­line with a badly bruised lower back and leg.

De­spite all the med­i­cal as­sur­ances and his own brave show of con­fi­dence, the 19-year-old ad­mits he will take to the court at The Cage with a hint of trep­i­da­tion.

‘‘ Deep down, in the back of my mind there is still that thought of my leg,’’ Blanch­field said.

‘‘ I’ve done a lot train­ing and Cam ( f i t n e s s c o a c h Wh i t i n g ) h a s smashed it, and I knew if I pulled up sore then I couldn’t take to the court. Be­cause of that I know it will hold up well, I just have to play as hard as I can.’’

T h e C r o c s h a v e d r a f t e d Blanch­field as cover for the loss of ver­sa­tile perime­ter weapon Wil­liamson who is back­ing the young­ster to take his place as a bright spark off the bench.

‘‘ Todd is an ag­gres­sive, young player, he is ath­letic and likes to get amongst it,’’ Wil­liamson said.

Havi n g wat c h e d Bl a n c h f i e l d bounce around un­hin­dered in their fi­nal prac­tice session at The Crocs Club on Thurs­day left Wil­liamson with no ques­tions about his team­mate’s phys­i­cal abil­ity to re­turn.

It’s the rookie’s men­tal state that the 189-game NBL player has tried to ad­dress in per­son.

‘‘ I’ll have a chat to him and make sure his head is in the right spot,’’ Wil­liamson said.

‘‘ It’s a mat­ter of him com­ing out with the right attitude and know­ing that he can get it done.’’

Coach Trevor Glee­son con­cedes his hand has been forced with Blanch­field, who in ideal cir­cum­stances would not be re­lied upon in a game of high stakes.

Blanch­field ap­pre­ci­ates the concern, but has vowed to do his ut­most to shoul­der the ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity, even plead­ing with Glee­son for a chance to again prove him­self.

‘‘ I hope Trev has faith in me still to put me out on court so I’m able t o g o o u t a n d d o m y j o b , ’ ’ Blanch­field said.

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