On the eve of his 100th game in the red and black dashing defender Courtenay Dempsey is confident he has won back the respect of not just those within the club but the wider football world.
Dempsey has battled through a number of soft tissue injuries as well as a club imposed suspension since joining the club in the 2005 national draft.
As recently as the start of this season the 26-year-old faced a four-week ban from his teammates following what was described as a lack of training standards.
Dempsey admits there was a time where he feared his AFL career may have come to an end.
“The leadership group came out with the decision to suspend me for a month and that was a bit of an eye opener,” Dempsey said.
“It was scary at the start but after that I have cracked down and worked on what I needed to in order to get the players and coaches respect back.”
“I think it is starting to show in my games so that I am getting the respect back not just from the club but the football world.”
A number of strong conversations with coach Mark Thompson have been the cornerstone of the defenders turn around in form.
Dempsey has not missed a match since returning to the side for the club’s ANZAC Day clash against Collingwood averaging 17 disposals and 5 tackles per game over the last month.
“Bomber expected me to just be a good teammate, I had to work on my deficiencies in my game and one of those was defence,” Dempsey said.
“I am playing in defence so I need to pick up that side of my game so the confidence that the coaches have had in my to turn my football around has helped me.”
Thompson praised the turn around in form of Dempsey after the club’s recent win over Port Adelaide.
“Courtenay Dempsey used to revert to something I didn’t particularly like to try and get himself back in the game and respected by his teammates,” Thompson said post match.
“He used to rush down the ground as early as he could to get a goal and have that influencing play where he would kick or set up a goal.”
“I like it when he just plays, his teammates like it when he just plays on an opponent and beats him in contests, tackles and then handballs to someone to get them on their way.”
“That’s what his teammates told him, he is doing it and he is getting all the slaps on the back tonight.”
“You just know that you are making progress.”
It has taken Dempsey nine seasons to reach the milestone after being hampered by hamstring and knee injuries.
“With the amount of injuries I have had throughout my career it has been scary to see if I can actually get to it.”
“I am here now, looking forward to it and excited about the weekend’s game against the Bulldogs.”
“Now I do all the little things to make sure I recover to get up for training as well as games.”comments powered by Disqus