Back into the breach
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.