He had to wait 728 days between AFL games, but for Sam Simpson it was worth the wait.
The 22-year-old stepped up when Mitch Duncan and Quinton Narkle were ruled out through injury to play an important role in Geelong’s 27-point win against Brisbane on Thursday night.
Simpson finished with a game-high 27 disposals, five tackles and two clearances. Eclipsing his previous best of 13 disposals.
“It was great and something I have worked hard towards, so it was good to just get the job done tonight,” Simpson said post-match.
The reigning VFL Best and Fairest winner admits it was frustrating at times not getting a senior opportunity, but he focused on improving his craft and remained confident that his time would come.
“The coaches really helped and just that self-motivation to just work hard on the craft, get lots of feedback and slowly work towards it and just really enjoy the process, I think that was the main thing to focus on along the way.”
“It can be (frustrating) but just because you’re striving higher.
“You have just got to back in, week in, week out and do the things that you’re good at and play to my strengths.
“You have just got to keep that belief and it is a hard side to crack into at times, so just keep going at it.”
The experiences gained and added responsibility developing his midfield craft at VFL level prepared him well for tonight.
“I feel like through that patch I have developed a lot.
“I spent a fair bit of time in the midfield in the VFL, so just being around the footy and being in different scenarios has really helped me and I felt a lot better prepared this time.”
The victory moves Geelong to 4-2 for the year and well-placed heading into the WA hub.
That win didn’t look likely mid-way through the second term when the Cats trailed by 22-points, but Simpson said the group always had the belief they could fightback.
“We are a good side like that, we have always got that belief.”
Geelong will be in action again next Thursday when they host the Pies at Optus Stadium at 8.10pm AEST.