LUKE Cowan rocked up to Central District pre-season training in 2001 not knowing what to expect.
The then 21-year-old arrived from home club Numurkah after playing in successive flags with the Blues in 1999 and 2000.
Central District in Adelaide had just appointed Alastair Clarkson as coach after coaching Werribee the previous year.
The CDHBU recruit still vividly remembers his first training session.
“I rocked up the first night and didn’t even get through the first session,” Cowan said.
“I had never been a real hard trainer at Numurkah just use to turn up to training, run a couple of laps and then get into some ball work.
“The first session consisted of three one-kilometre time trials followed by a four-kilometre run after that.
“I couldn’t finish the four kilometres and didn’t realise how unfit I actually was.
“It was my first real pre-season and certainly an eye-opener for me.”
Cowan spent the first two years in and out of the senior line-up before cementing his spot in the Bulldogs attack and playing in a hat-trick of flags in 2003-05.
Former Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Hawthorn defender Brent Guerra was also a premiership player with Central District in 2003.
Clarkson coached the Bulldogs for two years, winning the flag in his first season before finishing runner-up the following year.
The dual Hawthorn premiership coach then joined Port Adelaide as midfield coach for two seasons and was appointed coach of the Hawks in 2005.
“It took me a few years to cement my spot and add a bit of size to my frame,” Cowan said.
“I was on the fringe for the first two years but after I realised what was required on the track I didn’t look back really.
“I always thought Clarkson was too good of a coach for SANFL and had the ability to coach at a higher level.
“Looking back, he did wonders for the club in his two years there and built up a strong list and laid the foundations for the club to play in 12 grand finals in a row.”
Cowan attracted the attention of AFL talent scouts in his time at Central Districts and rates representing South Australia in the state league against Victoria in 2006 as a career highlight.
He left Central Districts at the end of 2009 after 113 senior games and joined Waaia in 2011 after enjoying a season off.
The spring-heeled forward booted 200 goals in three seasons with Waaia and played in the past two grand final defeats.
Cowan, 34, was contemplating retirement before CDHBU football manager, Paul Rippingale, was able to lure the talented big man to the Power.
“It’s an exciting place to be with a good young list coming through.
“The club made finals last season and our aim is to improve and see where that takes us.”