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Torquay Tiger Vlastuin keen to prowl again

Vlastuin is a keen surfer and he has been trying to get in the water to keep his fitness up but even that is proving difficult.

The disregard of physical-distancing rules, with thousands laying on towels on top of one another at beaches, saw the car parks at his favourite surf spot at Point Addis closed. So he can barely get to the beach now, let alone get a wave.

He doesn’t have weights or a gym at Torquay so he is stuck improvising with building materials in the backyard for weights, going for runs and kicking a ball to himself.

“I have to do the running, I can’t afford not to do the running but I can afford not to do weights for a while and pick it up again,” he said.

Vlastuin loves the summers at Torquay, which makes for a conundrum as football looks to push back into his regular summer break.

On the one hand he gets to play, which is good. On the other hand he has, well, the complexion for winter sport (he might be a keen surfer but wetsuits offer more protection than a black and yellow footy jumper and a pair of shorts).

“I am not usually too good in the hot weather and the sun, being pale skinned so footy in the off-season when you are usually wanting to do something else is not great but playing footy is better than not playing footy,” Vlastuin said.

“I would like to fit those games in and be able to play. And then we won’t have to do as long a pre-season for next year, which is a positive.”

Nick Vlastuin in action during Richmond's first-round match before the postponement.

Nick Vlastuin in action during Richmond’s first-round match before the postponement.Credit:AAP

The coronavirus at one point appeared likely to present Richmond with a competitive edge over the rest of the competition as an experienced and physically mature group. And perhaps if teams return to play again this year after a long limbo it will be the more physically mature teams that cope best with the impact of the hiatus on training.

“There was talk about that early days when restrictions were coming in that it could give us a competitive advantage because the club looked after us so well. They said the measures are this but let’s go over and above to get an advantage,” Vlastuin said.

“Now who knows if the season goes ahead or not. At the moment we have bigger things to worry about.”

Vlastuin said he was glad the season started and enjoyed the novelty of the crowd-free game, but thinks the novelty will get old fast and players will miss the crowds as much as crowds miss the players.

That said he was also relieved when the season was postponed.

“We had already had new measures in, training was only in groups of six. One of the best things about footy is hanging around with 40 of your mates, so by the end of the week it was like what is the point?

“We didn’t have a choice in the end. When it got called off it was a bit of a relief in the end because of the keyboard warriors.

“It was nothing personally directed towards me but you would see on Instagram the AFL would post a photo and the top comments were people hammering players for playing.

“But then on the other hand my mates and heaps of people you would speak [to] were rapt about footy going ahead.”

Richmond, as the reigning premier, the team that has two flags in three years, returned this year and in round one looked to have lost no hunger.

All sides will be frustrated at the season being taken away but for a side with a strong early claim on this year’s premiership and thus for a flag that would enhance its historic standing, or dynasty, it is an added frustration to the postponement. It is not an aspect Vlastuin gives voice to.

“Maybe in 10 years we will look back on this season and say what if we got a full season? But at the moment footy seems second fiddle to everything else. People are losing their lives.

‘’Maybe in five years or 10 years people will look back and say that.”

The bigger concern for him right now is looking around and seeing only the townhouses he is building and not his 40 teammates. It is looking around and knowing that the coaches and people he works with so closely are not there, they are at home without a wage and the deep uncertainty of whether they will have jobs at the end of all of this and how they will put food on the table in the meantime.

“All of our coaches have been stood down and are not getting paid, I want to get back playing as soon as I can so they can get paid and get their jobs back.”

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