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I feel like I’m 18 again: Lake

Brian Lake Debut Brian Lake speaks to HawksTV about finally making his debut this Sunday against North Melbourne.
Brian Lake of Hawthorn takes a mark during the 2013 NAB Cup round 01, week 02 match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Hawthorn Hawks at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast. (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)
Brian Lake of Hawthorn takes a mark during the 2013 NAB Cup round 01, week 02 match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Hawthorn Hawks at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast. (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)

BRIAN Lake says the butterflies have already started as he prepares to make his debut for Hawthorn on Sunday at the MCG.

It has been a delayed start to the 30 year old’s career at the Hawks, with a calf injury sidelining him during the NAB Cup and then a knock at training saw him withdraw from the Club’s Round 1 clash against Geelong.

That meant the Hawks recruit hadn’t played a match since week one of the pre-season competition, and required match conditioning at VFL level before making his debut for the Hawks.

Now, he’s had three solid hit outs for Box Hill, enjoyed a strong month on the track and is finally ready to run out onto the MCG as a Hawthorn player for the first time.

Despite being a veteran of 197 AFL matches, Lake admits the nerves are setting in on the eve of his first match for premiership points as a Hawk.

“Coming to a new club and playing for the first time this week does feel like I’m an 18 year old again playing your first game and feeling very toey about it,” he told hawthornfc.com.au

“I’d been at the Bulldogs for 10 years so you do get into a comfort zone and I guess take for granted the games that you play because you just expect it.

“I haven’t had many nerves over my career, but coming in now for my first game I’ve got little butterflies like I did for my first game back in 2002.”

Despite battling injury in his short career as a Hawk so far, Lake says his stint in the VFL has given him the confidence he needs in his body, that it can withstand the rigors of playing football at the elite level.

But he admits it could take a few weeks for him to gel with his new teammates in the Hawthorn back six.

“To get that confidence down in the reserves at Box Hill, just to know that my body can still do what I wanted it to do and fitness wise, I’m feeling really good,” he said.

“It might take a little while to gel and have my teammates understand the way I play and, on the flipside, me understand the way they play as well.

“The synergy you look for when you’ve played footy together for a while, it’s not just going to happen overnight, it’s going to take us a little bit to build up.”

Lake comes into the Hawthorn 22 to take on the Roos to replace the injured Ryan Schoenmakers who will miss the remainder of 2012 with a ruptured ACL sustained in the win over Fremantle last weekend.

The news filtered through about his teammates’ injury at half time of Box Hill’s Round 3 match against Geelong at Simmonds Stadium.

He says he was “shattered” for his fallen teammate given the Club has grand plans for he and Schoenmakers to work in tandem in fellow defender Josh Gibson this season.

“I was still playing for Box Hill at that stage, Brendan Whitecross was there at the game and told us (about the injury) at half time,” lake recalled.

“It’s shattering when you do hear that news because the plans were obviously for Schoey, myself and Gibbo to be playing at the same time.”

Now that he has his chance, however, Lake hopes to not only be a pillar of strength in defence, but also give his Coach, Alastair Clarkson more versatility in the back half.

And he wants to show that on Sunday against North Melbourne.

“It’s not like four or five years ago where you had your Fraser Gehrig’s and Matthew Lloyd’s that just stayed at home, there’s a lot of chopping and changing,” Lake said.

“North have got three talls that play that position so with myself, Gibbo and Stratts as well, there’ll be a lot of rotations through those guys.

“It’s not just me sitting in the goal square one-on-one with an opponent; it’s me also working up the ground.

“There’s no real set position now as a back six, you’ve got to be very versatile.”