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Carlton’s secret weapon: extra homework

IN HIS final year at Gladstone Park Secondary College, in a bid to dominate his VCE, Jordan Bannister studied his heart out.

Seven years later, despite choosing a career in AFL, he is still sweating it out in the classroom in order to pass career-shaping tests.

“It is a bit like that, we do a lot of research on our [opposing] players,” said Bannister.

Last weekend he had ‘Chad Cornes 101’, a test he scored highly in, for the second time this year, restricting Cornes to just 18 possessions. Bannister’s performance was one of the main reasons the Blues came so close to toppling the Power.

“The team supported me well on the weekend,” he said.

“We have been ultra competitive in both games against Port Adelaide, which helps when you are doing a run-with role on a player.”

The former Bomber has played nine out of the last 10 games for the Blues. Although, before getting his chance in round 10, Bannister had to overcome a shoulder injury and the club’s ‘youth policy’.

 “I was put on for a year and [former coach] Denis [Pagan] told me that it was going to be really competitive to get a game this year,” said Bannister.

“I knew that, with a lot of young guys coming to the club and that we are in a rebuilding phase, it was going to be hard for me.

“But I just tried hard to be positive and work on my goal of consistency – which I have lacked previously.”

Consistency, or a lack of it, is an appropriate way to describe Carlton’s season. However, in the last three games where they took it up to finals contenders St Kilda, Collingwood and Port Adelaide, the Blues have largely put in better efforts across all four-quarter quarters.

Bannister attributed the team’s change in style as one of the main reasons behind the turnaround in performance.  

“I know with our game style we are holding on to the ball a lot more and using each other,” he said.  

“We have been told when someone runs past we have to give the handball in any circumstance. So, I suppose, as a result of getting a lot more ball, we are more positive and competitive – which has been good.”

No doubt, the Blues will be looking forward to continuing their form and enthusiasm against Essendon this weekend, in a traditional clash Bannister says he always loved watching as a kid.

“I can’t wait to play this weekend in such a big game,” he said.

“All the boys want to win for Rats [caretaker coach Brett Ratten]. He has been awesome for us and we are behind him and each other so we really want to have a win this week.”

60 seconds with Jordan Bannister

What song would you choose to sing on Australian Idol? I would definitely sing a love ballad. Maybe What’s left of me, a solo Nick Lachey released last year.

Nick Lachey, formerly of 98 Degrees? That is me all over. I have always listened to that type of music since I was young. My brothers bashed me up for it. In my defence, the Irish boys at the club also like that type of music.

What are their favorites? Human Nature and Westlife – bands like that.

You are given a choice to either help a stranded whale or rescue a cat from being run over. Which would you choose and why? Definitely the stranded whale, I absolutely hate cats, I can’t imagine why anyone would have one.

Any bad first-date experiences? I was 18 and I took a girl to a restaurant. Ex-Essendon teammate, Sam Hunt, who is now at Geelong, rocked up and sat two tables away with some of the boys.

He wasn‘t trying to cut your lunch was he? He claimed it was an accident. But, in his younger days, I would not have put that past him at all.

How did the date go? It was the one and only date with that girl.