Clever Wodonga Raiders’ utility Ethan Boxall has opened up about being dropped earlier in the season.
“I had a pretty slow start to the year, my form wasn’t the best, I don’t know why it wasn’t,” he said candidly.
“You cop it on the chin and as you know ‘Crezza’ (coach Daryn Cresswell) is pretty full on.
“He’s very passionate about his football, which is good, that’s what you want in a coach.”
Boxall admits his tendency for the spectacular mark can rub his coach the wrong way.
“Yeah, I go for a few, ‘Crezza’s’ not really happy if I fly for them and they don’t come off, every once in a while they do come off,” he said.
A lightweight at only 70kgs, Boxall launched himself over team-mate Jaxon Neagle and Wangaratta’s Frazer Dent in the third quarter of last weekend’s gripping 15-point qualifying final win under lights.
Boxall has shown his versatlity over the past two years.
He started this season in the midfield or on the wing, but has moved forward recently and is averaging just over a goal a game.
Boxall also occasionally plays loose man in defence, while last year he spent time in the ruck, despite being just 180cms.
Raiders have lost 13 successive games to Albury over six years and faces the Tigers at North Albury’s Bunton Park on Saturday, but they can take heart from Wangaratta’s upset in last year’s grand final.
The Pies were hammered in round five by 68 points, reduced that to 17 a month later and then pushed the Tigers to seven in the second semi.
Raiders were blasted by 44 points in round two this year, coach Cresswell admitting his players were “worried” out of the contest by the Albury juggernaut.
However, the home side halved that margin in June.
“We feel we’re capable of beating them, they’re a hard team to stop, on our day we definitely think we can,” Boxall said.
If Raiders are to cause an upset, they have to also replicate the performances of Wangaratta’s gun players in the 21-point grand final win.
Under the points system, the top liners must fire and the only Pies players boasting more than one point against Albury – Michael Newton (four), Tom Whittlesea and Ben Speight (five apiece) – kicked 12 goals between them.
Jarrod Hodgkin (six) and Daniel Bowles (four) were outstanding last week, but Brodie Filo (four) had a quiet game, so Raiders need him to lift.
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