ADAM Flagg could have dropped his head.
After missing a golden chance to break Albury and Yarrawonga’s strangehold on the grand final with a sprayed shot at goal in the dying stages of last year’s preliminary final, the Lavington forward could have easily been forgiven for thinking the world was against him.
Plenty of others would have.
He took a more Zen approach.
“You can’t dwell on that stuff,” Flagg, 20, said ahead of today’s clash with Corowa-Rutherglen.
“We got pretty close but it didn’t work out.
“Sometimes that happens.”
What Flagg was more annoyed about was the fact he wasn’t at his best.
A repeatedly misdiagnosed thumb injury derailed the former Greater Western Sydney youngster’s first season with the Panthers.
“It’s pretty frustrating going out on the weekend and not being able to show how you can play,” Flagg said.
“There’s obviously a bit of scrutiny and that in this comp, so it was really tough.
“It was a pretty tough year, actually.
“There was a fair bit of fire in the belly to prove how I can play.”
It’s fair to say he’s done that.
Flagg wasted little time making amends after a big summer on the training track.
He’s already booted the same number of goals he did for the entire season last year in just eight games.
A 13-kick, seven-mark, two-goal third quarter against Wangaratta Rovers in round three is just a sample of the form Flagg has been in this year.
Yes, those stats were in one quarter of football alone.
“Having a pre-season was the main thing,” he said.
“I waited until the end of the year to try to get the injury right and came back and trained flat out after Christmas.
“I ended up dislocating it out of the joint and needed surgery.”
Not only has Flagg returned a better player, his team has too.
The Panthers reaffirmed their pre-season hype when they spanked reigning premier Yarrawonga by 45 points, despite missing six of its best dozen players.
“It just showed us that if we do our gameplan and apply pressure for four quarters, it works,” Flagg said.
“It was a bit unexpected, I guess, but we always had the belief we could do it.
“It was good being able to go in as the underdog.
“The guys that came into the side were awesome.”
However, Flagg conceded there was now a weight of expectation that followed Saturday’s effort.
There’s no more excuses for Lavington.
“That’s the standard we expect to be at now,” Flagg said.
“We need to back that effort up every week and not fluctuate.
“We’re a side that wants to win off pressure and effort, not talent.”
Talent was something Flagg always possessed as a teenage footballer, enough to almost snare him a spot in the AFL.
He hasn’t given up on getting there one day.
“You never know, these days,” Flagg said.
“I just want to keep playing good footy and see what happens.
“I’m only 20.”