PANOS TO PARADE HIS TALENT
By ZAC MILBANK
Matthew Panos didn’t receive a mention when the nine SANFL captains were asked to name this year’s Ken Farmer Medallist.
It’s not that they don’t think the Norwood recruit is capable, he’s just not on the radar yet after returning from the Western Bulldogs during summer.
But one suspects the rest of the competition will be placed on notice when Panos takes centre stage against Port Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Thursday night.
‘’I haven’t set any targets – it’s more about the team,’’ said Panos when asked if he was aiming for a certain amount of goals in 2013.
‘’I just want to play my role for the team. So whether it be playing deep or pushing up the ground, wherever Bass (Norwood coach Nathan Bassett) wants me to play, I’ll compete hard and put on good defensive pressure.
‘’Hopefully I can also finish up with a few goals.’’
Selected by the Bulldogs in the 2009 AFL rookie draft, Panos was eventually elevated to the Dogs’ senior list last season.
Despite Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney searching for a key forward in 2012, Panos was unable to earn his AFL debut.
The 22-year-old sharpshooter kicked 23 goals for VFL club Williamstown but he’s the first to admit certain flaws in his game were holding him back.
‘’There were a few areas that were a big focus for the coaching staff which I didn’t develop as much as other people,’’ Panos said.
‘’It was about having enough strength in the contest and taking contested marks. I needed to be more aggressive and nail some tackles as well.
‘’I’ve always trained hard in the gym but that might not come out in the games. But I definitely think this pre-season, with our (Norwood’s) weights program and everything I learned at the Bulldogs, will come into practice a bit more.
‘’I’m feeling pretty good and ready to go on Thursday night.’’
Originally from Norwood, Panos can barely contain his excitement about making his SANFL return against the Redlegs’ arch enemy – the Magpies – at Coopers Stadium.
After playing in front of small crowds for the past three years in the VFL, Panos won’t know himself if more than 7,000 roll into The Parade.
‘’I’m definitely very excited as it’s been quite a while since I last played there,’’ Panos, 191cm, said.
‘’It should be a great game against Port, they are our big rivals so there should be a fairly big crowd. There’s always a lot of meaning to the first game, especially when you play Port in round one.’’