As a man who left Melbourne the season before their premiership drought was broken, Braydon Preuss is in a strong position to assess what can be achieved when all others are doubting you.
Now the number one ruckman at the GIANTS, Preuss sees similarities with the Demons side that he departed soon after they missed the finals in 2020 and his current GIANTS crop that has had their credentials dismissed after a disappointing two and five start to season 2022.
Both teams had enjoyed a flag challenge in the seasons prior to their critics coming out in force, with the coach under pressure to keep his job.
Melbourne and Simon Goodwin turned that around to win their first premiership in 57 years and while Preuss is hardly predicting that just yet for the GIANTS, he’s adamant fortunes can be altered swiftly.
“It’s pretty identical in terms of both clubs and how quickly it can change,” Preuss told afl.com.au.
“Personally, it gives me a lot of hope, seeing your good mates and how well they can play to get to a flag, so I have absolutely no doubt that we can do the same thing. It gives me a lot of confidence,” he said.
That assurance from the 206-centimetre Queenslander would have likely been assisted by the convincing performance in Adelaide last week that saw them run out 59-point winners and transformed the spirit at the club.
“Yeh, it’s funny, we were a bit down in the dump there as many footy clubs would be and it definitely brings that belief back.”
“When you lose a couple of games the world’s a bad place but the win on the weekend was great, it just shows what we’re capable of,” Preuss said.
While today’s clash in Canberra against Geelong is a formidable challenge for the GIANTS, they then have Carlton and West Coast at home along with North Melbourne in their four games to follow.
It’s a schedule that could have them back in the top eight mix by the halfway mark of the season.
“Yeh, we played some tough teams early. Every game now feels like a final for us because we can’t afford to lose too many more,” said Preuss.
And they can’t afford to play too many games without their first choice ruckman either.
With an average of 36.5 hitouts per game, Preuss is second to only Jarrod Witts to round seven and with an average of 4.8 marks a game, he leads that category for ruckman along with Peter Ladhams.
It goes a long way to summing up why coach Leon Cameron was so furious with Preuss’ lack of discipline in round four that saw him suspended for the clash with his former club in Melbourne the week after.
“Leon pulled me into his office and hit me between the eyes,” Preuss said.
“I already knew I did wrong, but it was probably something I needed and yeah, it just helped me get a little bit of head space so those things don't happen anymore.”
“First of all, we were one and three, so I definitely let the boys down and we were going up against Jackson and Gawn that week.”
“I think Leon's got the perfect balance of being hard on players and knowing when to lay off,” Preuss continued.
“He's respected, he's liked, but blokes want to work for him and yeah, I just think, yeah, he's got that perfect balance.”
While he’s only 26, Preuss is already at this third AFL club but he’s determined to ensure his journeyman ruckman days are over and the GIANTS become his final destination.
“Yeah, I love it here, I want to stay for the long-term,” he said.
“Ruckmen seem to be swapping around every year, a lot of have been successful, some haven't, but yeah, I would love the GIANTS to be my last stop because so I just love it here.”
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