From the Record: Charles Sturt University
Kerr Comes to Town in Footballing Roadshow
Douglas Connor – 29th April 2017
It’s not every day that Robertson Oval is graced by genuine AFL royalty. However, Friday night in round three of the Farrer Football League, was no ordinary day.
A clash that has footy fans all around the Riverina thinking that Friday night can’t come quite quick enough, as AFL legend Daniel Kerr laces up the boots for the CSU Bushpigs in a one-off appearance for the club. It’s a move for Kerr that sees him booked in for 14 one-off appearances for country teams in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania, and the university side snapped at the chance of bringing the Brownlow Medal runner-up to Wagga Wagga.
For a young playing group such as CSU it’s an opportunity not to be missed, with Kerr’s ten plus years of AFL experience sure to rub off on the eager to learn university team. “It’s a great opportunity for the younger players, especially in terms of learning the little things about preparation and game day, so there’s positives all round” said CSU club president Tristan Robinson, who believes the excitement of the event is having an impact on the whole club.
“The majority of people would have heard of him, he was a big deal in the mid 2000s and has only recently retired so there’s been a bit of buzz around the club at the start of the year, getting everyone to training, preparing well.”
Kerr’s achievements in the sport are impressive by anyone’s standards, playing 220 games for the West Coast Eagles in his thirteen years with the club, scoring 122 goals. The hard-running midfielder is considered one of the Eagles all-time greats, and is adored by their fans for his loyalty as a one club player. Finishing runner up for the Brownlow Medal on two occasions, the first to teammate Ben Cousins, Kerr was a household name heralded for his strength and powerful technique.
A member of the Eagles 2006 Premiership winning side, Kerr managed 22 disposals in the grand final, a feat made more impressive still when considering he played the match with detached ligaments in his foot. While Kerr’s appearance for the Bushpigs will attract much of the attention of this weeks Farrer League, it is another Western Australian who has been turning heads at the local level for the University club.
Rob Herzfeld made the cross-state move in 2016 to attend university in Wagga, and has since found himself as the focal point of a CSU side truly looking to challenge in 2017. The midfielder may have travelled a long way to wind up in Wagga, but has looked very much at home in his short time at the club, being nominated as CSU’s rising star and receiving the highest number of votes for CSU in the Clear Medal, an award honouring the Farrer league’s best & fairest.
It seems like home has had a bit of trouble letting go of Herzfeld as well, in what is a story of true family commitment to watching some country football, his dad travelling almost 4000 kilometres by motorbike to catch his son run out for the Bushpigs in 2016. Herzfelds’ positive form has no doubt been influenced by what he describes as a ‘sense of belonging” within the club, and he is quick to sing the praises of the Bushpigs in creating a good environment for young people, particularly students to play some quality football.
It’s players like Herzfeld, and their other young talents who will relish the opportunity to play with a legend of the game like Kerr, and who have the CSU president quietly confident about the team’s ability to challenge the leagues big guns in 2017. “We were happy with our list last year, but being a university club we knew there’d be a few players moving on, but we were confident we would have new blokes rocking up, luckily we were right and had about 25 new fellas turning up.”
“We have really managed to add some depth, and the quality is there throughout, there’s a lot of excitement around the squad this year, and with the new talent coming in, with a bit of work and gelling the team together I think we will be much stronger this year”.
However, it is not only on the field that Robinson believes CSU are going to strength to strength, reiterating the importance of creating a culture for the players to excel and enjoy themselves, something that Herzfeld says can be experienced throughout country footy. “It’s hard to believe how big it is. It’s a real sense of community, everyone’s proud to play for their team, proud of the area and the comp.”
That passion for the sport in our country areas is one of the driving reasons behind Kerr’s footballing tour this season; seen as a chance to contribute to country football, inspire the junior players and to promote country competitions around Australia. “One of the main reasons is to give a bit back to country footy, we’ve heard he’s been doing some good things around some different clubs”.
It’s certainly hard to argue with the logic of the club, with big crowds expected for Friday nights game, a chance for the Bushpigs to test themselves against the reigning champs, and to lay down a marker for the rest of the season.
“Friday night footy under the lights with AFL legend! What more could you want?”