Lions tagger looks ready to break the mould
THE tables may be about to turn.
It won't be long before rival clubs begin tagging Jarrod Berry, who himself has had a number of run-with roles during his first seasons in the AFL.
Off the leash to an extent last week as Brisbane pushed North Melbourne all the way, the young Lion gathered a career- high 28 touches.
The 20-year-old, just 34 games into a promising career, has at times been assigned by coach Chris Fagan the job of "playing on the opposition's best midfielder". Think Patrick Cripps, Rory Sloane and Tom Mitchell.
"It's not going to be a long- term thing," Berry said ahead of the Lions' clash with Collingwood today. "It's just teaching me how to play at that level. There's no better way to learn than off the best players, I guess.
"I understand where I'm at, in my second year. I'm happy to play the role that I'm given."
Berry played on Brownlow Medal favourite Mitchell in the round 17 clash against the Hawks, which the Lions won.
"He's one of those players you can't really tag because they just find the footy anyway," Berry said. "It's more about limiting his impact. I think we did that.
"I think he had one or two stoppage clearances (in the second half).
"That was a tick for the team."
A week earlier it was 195cm Blues behemoth Cripps, who was held to 21 disposals.
"Pat was probably the hardest for me because of how physical he was for the whole game," Berry said. "He's a monster. He's so strong around the contest it's hard for a smaller, lighter person to match it with him, but it was good nullifying his influence. We cancelled each other out."
In round 18 there was veteran Crow Rory Sloane, "one of the hardest runners in the AFL, offensively and defensively".
"I grew up doing a lot of cross-country running, so I'm able to stay with them for most of the game," Berry said.
"It's more the physical side of it - just how to use my body."
At 193cm, the kid from Ballarat has the frame to one day dominate and he's been working hard in the weights room.
"Hopefully I'll put on a bit of weight over the off-season," he said. "Last season I wasn't able to compete with them at all."
Berry is also determined to become a "threat up forward, take a contested mark", ala Cripps and the Dockers' Nat Fyfe.
"That's the mould I want to build myself into," Berry said. "Be that player for the team."