By RUSSELL BENNETT
THE minute the Gippsland Power TAC Cup players left the field after their win over the Western Jets on Sunday, they made a beeline straight to the water bottles – it was time to initiate a new member into a special club.
Pakenham’s Troy Toussaint had just made his debut for the under-18 side and hadn’t even had time to think before he was front-and-centre in the circle for the Power team song, blinded in a sea of Powerade.
He may have wiped his eyes, but he couldn’t wipe the smile from his face if he tried.
By his own admission, the 17-year-old’s first TAC Cup experience was a nervy one, summed up with one overarching comment: “It was pretty fast!”
Toussaint had a place in the midfield rotation for the first half, and ran off the bench into the half-forward line throughout the second half.
“I was just told to play my own game,” he said, admitting to some excess nervous energy.
“The next one will be easier (to manage the nerves).”
Pakenham senior coach Steve O’Bryan – himself a former Power skipper – has been a great influence on Toussaint’s journey so far.
The youngster, who plays a small forward role with the Lions when not called up to the Gippsland sid, said he was happy with his form so far this season.
He’s aiming to play more games for the Power in 2013 and looks certain to get his chance with many of the squad also juggling Vic Country commitments.
Following Sunday’s game, Power midfield coach James Francis said he was impressed with Toussaint’s work ethic, particularly over the pre-season.
“It’s really a credit to him,” Francis said.
“He was really good in the practice matches and was probably just a little bit out of his depth today, but that could have been the first game nerves.”
Francis said Toussaint needed “a little more urgency” about his game, but added “he’ll get there”.
“His foot-skills are amazing and that’s what we look for in a player,” he said.
“He knows how to get his own footy and win his own ball.
“He was playing as our ‘fifth on-baller’, going up to the stoppages and doing it that way, but we see him as a goal-kicker as well.”
For more on the Power’s win over the Jets, turn to Page 7 of the Football liftout.