Sikora Aims To Become Zebs Number 1

Sikora Aims To Become Zebs Number 1
By Shaun Curnow

Having just completed his 2nd preseason, 206cm ruckman Michael Sikora is hoping to break into the Sandringham senior side and push to become the number 1 ruckman. Having played only 13 reserves games in 2011, Michael feels that he has worked hard to improve his fitness and core strength to take that next step in 2012.

“This year I’d like to play as many senior games as possible for the Zebras and to try and become their number 1 ruckman. I also look forward to being given the opportunity to play up forward and try to kick some goals” Michael Sikora said.

“Obviously at the end of the year I’d love to be picked up by an AFL Club and play senior footy. It’s a long while yet but I’ve got the determination to do it, but it all starts with having a good year with the Zebras so we can play finals footy.”

During the preseason Michael was given the opportunity to take part in St Kilda’s Intra Club match and he was able test himself out against one of the best up and coming ruckman in the AFL.

“Playing in the St Kilda Intra Club match was an experience for me, putting the game plan structures into play I was able to learn a lot from it. It’s something I could really get used to!” explains Sikora.

“Playing against Ben McEvoy was great. It’s impressive to see how much he has achieved playing at the Saints at such a young age. It usually takes ruckman a few good years to develop into solid senior players where he has taken a lot of responsibility in becoming their number 1 ruckman”

Throughout his short career Michael taken it upon himself to watch and learn from more experienced players, in particular the recently retired Michael Gardiner.

“When Michael Gardiner was playing at Sandringham last year, I’d always make sure I’d stay for the whole game to see how he goes about it because he reads the play so well and gets to the right positions.”

“Id like to think I’m a hard at it player I enjoy using my big body to crash packs and trying to out body other players in the ruck. I don’t really model myself on a particular AFL player but I enjoy watching the way different ruckman go about playing on the field”

Having been with the club now for 2 years, Michael he has been able to witness the change in direction that the Zebras alignment with St Kilda has taken this preseason. A larger than normal turnover of 12 players at St Kilda has seen the arrival of new faces with fresh attitudes that are ready to make the most of their opportunities. This has filtered its way down into the Sandringham ranks where 17 new players have made their way to club.

“After a big turn around of players from last year, a lot of the 2nd and 3rd players are now becoming leaders at a young age. I’m personally trying to make the new players to club this year welcome at the zebras, so we gel and can have a successful year.

“I think Beau Dowler will be one to watch this season. He is a solid back man whose intent is always at the ball and has the great ability to move up forward and kick goals.

“Adam Cockie from WA also has an impressive history and hopefully can bring some of that over here so we will play finals footy this year.”

The turnover was not only limited to the players as there has also been a major re-structure of the coaching panel, with newly appointed coach Simon McPhee & his assistants all having a role at both clubs. This means, that for the first times in years, the game plan will be the same at both clubs.

“The re-structure {of the coaching panel} is a positive move for Sandringham and St Kilda. With both teams playing under the same game plan it will make it easier to understand each other and win games.” explains Sikora

“Hearing from St Kilda coach Scott Watters that both teams players will be judged on their own merits for selection at Sandringham make me want to push myself harder at training and to do the extras outside the club and working on recovery. I just hope it stays like that through out the whole season.”

On a personal note and as with most VFL footballers, Michael finds it’s hard to juggle a working career and the commitments of a football career.

“I’m a 4th year apprentice electrician and it does affect my footy somewhat. But I do have a boss that loves his footy and he understands my situation and makes sure I’m at training when I have to be.

“In saying that there never seems to be enough hours in the day to fit in gym session off legs session recovery also fitting in a girlfriend and social life somewhere in there, but I can’t complain I love playing footy!”

Sandringham officials are impressed with the progress Michael has made in short period of time he has been at the club.

“Michael has certainly come a long way since coming to the club last year, he has dropped a heap of weight and his fitness has got much better. He didn’t play junior footy so he is still learning the game.” Operations Manager, Lucas Blatman said.

“It was great to see him have a hit out in the seniors on the weekend. He had 23 tap outs against AFL listed Ruckman in a shortened game so it really shows how much hard work he has put in over the off season.”

*** Please Note this is article I wrote for SandringhamFC at start of 2012. You can see original here ***

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