Engineering student prepares to shut down Demons

18-Jul-2013

Justin Clarke keeps a close eye on North Melbourne forward Robbie Tarrant at the Gabba.

Charles Darwin University student and Brisbane Lions defender Justin Clarke is optimistic about his team’s chances in their first AFL premiership match in the Northern Territory this Saturday.

Clarke, an external electrical engineering undergraduate who will line up in defence against the Melbourne Demons, is confident the Lions can extend their winning streak to a season’s-best three.

Clarke was a key defender in the Lions’ remarkable come-from-behind win against the more fancied North Melbourne at the Gabba last week.

Despite trailing by 33 points late in the third quarter, the Lions kicked 10 of the last 13 goals, to run out 12-point winners.

“It was the second time that we’ve turned things around like that,” said Clarke, referring to a game last month against Geelong, in which the Lions came back from a nine-goal deficit.

It has been a coming-of-age year for the 19-year-old who has had to learn to balance the rigours of academic life with the demands of top-flight football.

“It’s a juggling act and my schedule is tight but I’m committed to succeeding in both my studies and in football,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to Semester 2 and the mental challenges it will bring, but I’ll be tackling just one subject this time, having probably bitten off more than I could chew in Semester 1.”

Clarke has been a regular starter for the Lions since making his debut in round five and has been a member in five of the Lions’ six wins this season.

His role is to neutralise the impact of his direct opponent, far more so than to accumulate a large tally of possessions.

“As a defender I focus on the ‘one-percenters’. Blocking and spoiling are two of my key performance indicators,” he said.

“I know I’ve had a good game if my opponent has had little impact on the result.”

The Lions and the Demons will play at TIO Stadium in Darwin on Saturday from 7.10pm CST.