ALBURY star Joel Mackie is over his omission from the Victorian Country side and ready to lead NSW into battle in the Australian County Championships at Wagga on Friday.
Although the Tiger remains puzzled by comments from VCFL coach Peter Knights that he hadn’t been committed in previous campaigns, Mackie is focused on helping lift NSW out of the doldrums after a winless 2010 campaign in Canberra.
“To get a chance to captain your own state is very humbling,” Mackie said yesterday.
“It’s a huge honour.
“At heart I really wanted to get a strong NSW side together and it’s turned out well.”
Despite being the stand-out player in the Ovens and Murray this season, Mackie failed to make Victoria’s original squad in a decision that left many in the league dumbfounded.
Mackie is a runaway leader in several media awards and has taken his game to another level after starring in Albury’s last three premierships.
“Reading what was in the paper from Victoria mentioning my commitment was disappointing,” he said.
“The two times I was picked in the Victorian squads I went down to Melbourne five times for training.
“I don’t know what commitment means to some people but I think that shows I was committed. To have it put to you like that was a bit upsetting.
“I’m really looking forward to playing for NSW though and I know Macca (coach Jason McPherson) is pretty excited about the group we have together.”
Mackie and Lavington’s Luke Garland have been appointed as captain and vice-captain of the NSW line-up in a team loaded with eight Ovens and Murray players.
The Tiger midfielder said he was enjoying his football more than ever.
“It’s been good,” he said.
“It comes down to how the body feels and at the moment things are going well.
“I worked hard over the pre-season and it’s paying off.”
NSW takes on Queensland, Victoria (2) and South Australia on day one at McPherson Oval and Maher Oval on Friday.