IT has taken nearly half the season but Merewether Carlton captain Mick Gill is finally where he wants to be, at breakaway.
What’s more, he is loving it.
Gill made his debut in the No.7 jumper in the Greens’ 21-12 loss to Lake Macquarie last round.
Though the result did not go to plan, the 29-year-old’s move from inside centre was a resounding success.
He was named players’ player and scored best-and-fairest points.
‘‘It is something I have been aiming to do since the pre-season,’’ Gill said.
‘‘I used to play hooker at league and loved making plenty of tackles and getting stuck in there.
‘‘ I have wanted to get closer to the action.
‘‘At 12, if it is a 10-man rugby game you are lucky to make six tackles.’’
Gill trained exclusively as a back-rower in the pre-season but a spate of injuries and unavailabilities meant the switch had to be put on hold.
‘‘We planned it from day one,’’ Greens coach and former NSW Country breakaway Stacey Sykes said.
‘‘He trained there all pre-season and then all of sudden we lost Sean Rudder (hamstring/back), Sam Bright (broken finger), Sam Clifton (torn pectoral) to injury. Cal McDonald went away on rep duty. The backs just kept falling over.
‘‘We needed someone experienced there, so Gilly slotted in at 12 but it was only ever going to be temporary.’’
It has only been one game, but Sykes is adamant Gill’s future is on the side of the scrum.
‘‘He is aggressive, he loves contact and loves chasing the ball,’’ Sykes said.
‘‘I think he ticks all the boxes and will be able to improve there.
‘‘He has a lot of learning in front of him but he is keen to do it as well.’’
Gill said the increased fitness level required and knowing which lines to run posed the biggest challenges.
‘‘I am asking Sykesy a lot of questions,’’ he said.
‘‘It is all about getting to the breakdown in the shortest space. Obviously with the increased workload there is a different fitness required.
‘‘You are always on the go.’’
Apart from the positional change Gill, has had to cope with the added responsibility of the captaincy.
‘‘As you get older, and you have a young team underneath you, you take that responsibility on board,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m pretty proud to be captain of the Greens. It is a big family thing for me.
‘‘Our association with the club goes back to my grandfather, Wal, who played in the 1940s.
‘‘My dad, Steve, and brother, Brad, also played at the club.’’
It has not been the easiest of jobs.
The Greens were unbeaten last season but have experienced a tough start to this campaign and sit in fifth.
‘‘We have had a horror run with injuries and lacked stability,’’ Gill said.
‘‘Now everyone is starting to float back, I’m confident things will improve.’’