LAVINGTON recruit Justin Koschitzke has had only a handful of training sessions with the Panthers.
But the former St Kilda player says country football is everything he remembered it to be from his days growing up on the farm at Brocklesby.
“It’s been like getting into a time machine and going back 15 years,” Koschitzke said at Trinity Anglican College yesterday.
“I did a pre-season at Lavi when I was 15 or 16 when Timba (Tim Sanson) got me in for a run.
“When I was walking into the ground last Monday for my first night with my boots and runners and I thought ‘wow’ I was doing this 15 years ago and here I am doing the same thing again.
“It’s been great.”
At 31, Koschitzke has no qualms about being labelled a veteran with only a handful of familiar faces still running around or, in some cases, carrying the water bottles.
“Stevo (Kade Stevens) and Penda (Matt Pendergast) and the Sanson brigade are still there,” he said.
“There are a lot of young kids getting around as well.
“It’s an enthusiastic bunch of young blokes with a mix of senior blokes who are hungry to go well.”
Koschitzke, who signed with Lavington after playing 200 games with St Kilda, hopes to play at least 10 matches for Lavington this season depending on work commitments.
“I’m looking at a minimum of 10 and hoping for more,” he said.
Koschitzke will have plenty of familiar AFL faces running around against him this season with Brendan Fevola, Kayne Pettifer, Craig Ednie and Steve McKee (Yarrawonga), Chris Hyde, Dean Polo, Setanta O’hAilpin and Matt Shir (Albury), Jason Akermanis and Jason Gram (North Albury), Ben Hollands (Wodonga) and Bryce Campbell (Corowa-Rutherglen) having played at the highest level.
He believes the professionalism of the Ovens and Murray has been a major factor behind the influx of AFL players in recent seasons.
“I was overwhelmed by the professionalism of Lavington and the way they went about it,” he said.
“It blew me away for a country league and I think it’s miles ahead of a lot of the suburban leagues.”