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True Blue 'Schu' dreaming of debut

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ANGUS Schumacher has long dreamt of locking arms with 21 Carlton senior contemporaries and belting out the lyrics to ‘Lily of Laguna’.

“I’ve thought about it heaps, to be in the middle of the circle singing the song. Hopefully one day soon that will happen,” Schumacher said this week.

Of one thing you can be sure – when Schumacher gets that chance he won’t be feigning the lyrics. A lifelong Blues fan, he has his maternal uncle Bronte Sandercock for setting him straight on his team of choice. As he blissfully conceded: “My uncle brainwashed me as a kid”.

Born in South Australia, Schumacher had just turned ten when he relocated with his family across the border from Naracoorte to the south-east Bendigo suburb of Strathfieldsaye.

“The move came through Dad’s work in the grain industry,” Schumacher recalled.

“I didn’t want to make it at the time but after a couple of years I was right – and I’ve now been on this side of the border for a bit longer than I was on the other side, so I’m officially Victorian.”

In reflecting on his schoolboy days, the affable 19-year-old fondly remembered those weekend trips to Melbourne to see his beloved Blueboys play.

“I remember coming down to a game at the ’G where ‘Fev’ (Brendan Fevola), who was a bit of an idol, kicked eight. I reckon it was against Essendon,” Schumacher said.

“I also remember seeing ‘Juddy’ (Chris Judd). He was a massive idol of mine. I had a framed wall hanging of him in my bedroom back home and it’s still there.”

Fast forward nine years, to draft night 2017 - the night that Schumacher’s name was called with the selection earned from Adelaide as part of the Bryce Gibbs trade.

“This is by far the best moment of my life,” Schumacher told this reporter at the time.

“I was sitting at home thinking ‘Oh no, I don’t think it’s going to happen and then . . . oh, it’s a dream come true'. I’ve gone for the Blues my whole life. I don’t know what to say.”

Angus Schumacher (far right) with his fellow 2017 Carlton draftees during pre-season. (Photo: AFL Media)

Within 72 hours of having his name called, Schumacher was a conspicuous presence at the old Carlton ground. It was at about this time too that he mustered the courage to get a decent haircut, “having copped a fair bit of flak” from his contemporaries for the outrageously long locks . . . "and it took a while for me to build up the courage to tell the barber to cut it all off”.

The intense pre-season rigours to which Schumacher was then subjected at Carlton proved to be a rude awakening – but with the onset of matches the season has flown, and with seven rounds remaining there is opportunity for senior promotion.

As Schumacher said of the journey so far: “I finally get to live out the dream of living the life of an AFL footballer, of trying to develop as a first-year player and of learning off ‘Simmo’ (Kade Simpson) and ‘Daisy’ (Dale Thomas) in trying to set up my AFL career”.

In Simpson, the left-footed defender has a genuine ally. “I sit in on his footage every week, obviously he’s one of the best going around and I’ve learnt a lot from him,” Schumacher said.

And then there’s family, with Mr and Mrs Schumacher, not surprisingly, the greatest influences.

"Mum and Dad never ever missed a game when I was a kid and even now they get down to every game,” Schumacher said.

“They have always offered advice, sometimes advice you really don’t want to hear, but that’s fine.”

Through the weeks and months of season 2018, Schumacher has truly knuckled down. A work in progress to be sure, 'Schu', it could be said, is surely finding his feet.

“I came in pretty raw,” he readily admitted. “Physically I was skinny, there was nothing of me, so I worked in the gym to allow me to build myself up for senior footy and keep developing my craft.”

Now on the mend and ready to resume in the VFL on Sunday after a fortnight’s layoff with a groin strain, Schumacher doesn’t need reminding that a sequence of solid performances for the Northern Blues will force the senior selectors’ hand, in filling the void through the long-term injuries to the likes of defenders Sam Docherty, Lachie Plowman, Tom Williamson and Alex Silvagni.

Angus Schumacher has shown impressive signs in the VFL this season. (Photo: AFL Media)

Does Schumacher consider himself a genuine chance of making his Carlton senior debut in the next few weeks and realising that lifelong dream of singing the song?

“I’d like to think so,” came the reply. “My form’s been a little bit patchy, with a couple of good weeks and a couple of off weeks, but I’m not overthinking the game now, I’m going out and playing.”

Clearly, Schumacher is a man on a mission - in keeping with an innate desperation that is the hallmark of the way he plays.

As he said: “I just try to give it my all every week, leave nothing in the tank and go tirelessly to the final siren regardless of what the score is”.