Clutterbuck Happy To Have Earned League Spot Back At Swans

Friday, June 29, 2018 - 1:01 PM

FREDDIE Clutterbuck never expected any favours in 2018 despite being a former teammate of the new Swan Districts coach and while he didn’t mind being made to earn a league spot, he hopes he can hold on to it now for the rest of the season.

Clutterbuck did have a slow start to the 2018 season after an interrupted pre-season missing the opening two games before appearing in the reserves in Round 3 against Subiaco.

He went on to play the next seven matches in the reserves before 32 possessions and 11 marks against Claremont couldn’t be ignored and he made his first league appearance of the season, and 132nd of his career, on Saturday against Subiaco at Steel Blue Oval.

Despite Swans losing to the Lions by 82 points, Clutterbuck put in a solid showing finishing with 17 disposals, eight marks and four tackles as he played his first league game since last year's first semi-final loss to South Fremantle.

It was also Clutterbuck's first game playing under former East Perth teammate Adam Pickering who is in his first season as East Perth coach, and his first game with ex-Royals teammate Steven Payne too since Round 23, 2015.

Clutterbuck couldn’t hide his excitement over returning to the league team for Swan Districts on Saturday and despite the result, took some positives out of it against Subiaco and is looking to build on it now for the rest of 2018.

"It was really exciting to be back on the field with the boys. Obviously it was a tough game to come back for but I think I caught up with the pace of it quite well and as a team we've learned quite a bit from it going forward," Clutterbuck told 91.3 SportFM.

"It probably came at the right time for us so hopefully we take some stuff from that and use it for the rest of the year. I was a little bit slow to get going as a lot of us were I guess.

"It took me probably a little while to catch up with the pace of the game again but I did a couple of things which I don’t normally do like spoil and tackle, so that was a bit of a shock to the system.

"I worked into the game OK and hopefully that was just a stepping stone to bigger things in the weeks coming. Hopefully I keep improving my fitness and get a bit more of the footy as the weeks go on and try to contribute to a few more wins."

Clutterbuck didn't actually mind his eight-week spell in the reserves and he was joined by another veteran, 115-game on-baller Adam Faulkner, for a lot of that time.

He felt it was important he was made to earn his spot back in the league line-up.

"I wouldn’t say it was tough because I really enjoy playing footy with the boys down at Swans and we have a great group of guys," he said.

"I took it as a bit of a challenge to be able to play reserves footy and I was able to help teach some blokes back there and work my way back into some fitness, which I probably needed to do given my interrupted pre-season.

"I wasn’t expecting anything handed to me, but to have to wait that time was probably a good thing in a way because at least I knew I was ready to go on the weekend and it gave me something to build on."

By the time Clutterbuck was coming through as an emerging wingman and leader at East Perth in the formative years of his career, Pickering was playing his last season in 2010 and then moved into coaching straight away with the Royals.

Clutterbuck looked up to Pickering and got to know him well in that time and even though he was happy he was appointed Swan Districts coach in 2018, he knew not to expect any favours because of their previous connection.

"It's obviously the first time it's happened for me to be coached by someone I played with. I played a sprinkling of games in 2010 with him and he was a bloke I looked up to, and one of the leaders and better players at East Perth back then," he said.

"I was able to learn a lot off him and the way he went about it, and his work ethic was really good as a player. Then to have him back as a coach we were obviously mates and we kept in contact, and he coached me a little bit at East Perth as well.

"So we've had a relationship to some degree since he retired and the good thing about him is that he will tell you a few home truths and be really honest with you so you know what to take away and work on.

"Our relationship is still really good but at times it has been tested which really is for the betterment of the team and ultimately myself. I really enjoy that."

One young player who Clutterbuck has especially seen develop over the past 12 months is the man now wearing Tallan Ames' famous No. 11 jumper, Tobe Watson. He's got no doubt the 20-year-old has a future as bright as he wants it to be.

"He has been really good. He is still really young and he's taken a step up from a fair bit of ressies footy last year after a really good colts season the year before," Clutterbuck said.

"The way he goes about his footy is great and he's always learning, and always asking questions and is obviously really fit. He works really hard so it's great to see him get some rewards and he plays above his weight, is courageous and flies for marks.

"It's reward for effort and he's been really important for us in the midfield and it has shown how versatile he has. I can only see him improving in the weeks and hopefully many years to come for the Swan Districts supporters."