Imports enjoy challenges

By Cobram Courier

They came down from tropical Darwin a few years apart but Palmerston imports and good mates Nathan Hartley and Steve Smith are both thriving in Cobram.

Key defender Smith who arrived here just in time for the start of the season said he is enjoying the different types of challenges that Victorian football throws up compared to in his native Darwin.

‘‘I have really enjoyed it a lot playing down here. It is a lot slower footy and a lot more contested and there is more structure around the ball and teams have good set plays that I’m not really used to seeing in Darwin,’’ he said.

Currently injured with a shoulder problem, Smith has mainly been utilised by coach Josh Noonan at the defensive end of the ground but he is hoping to get a chance up forward at some point.

‘‘I am happy playing anywhere on the field but I would like to have a bit of a run up forward at some stage. I do enjoy playing down back though and I probably find it to be more comfortable down there.’’

Off the field, Smith has adjusted to Cobram life seamlessly and has just started an apprenticeship which was offered to him by team mate Tom Scott.

‘‘The apprenticeship has been awesome so far, Tommy is really good to work with and it definitely helps that we play footy together as well,’’ Smith said.

Ever-reliable fullback Nathan Hartley is now entering his third season with the Tigers and said he initially just came as a ‘‘tag along’’.

‘‘My mate Callum Groves got asked to come over here and play and at the time I had nothing really keeping me in Darwin and the club ended up asking me if I wanted to come down as well and I did,’’ Hartley said.

Smith and Hartley are not the only Darwin products at Tigerland, with Tyron Baden making up the trio.

‘‘We all played our juniors together and went to school together so we have known each for a long time and it’s pretty funny we have ended up here together,’’ Hartley said.

The big-bodied defender said he has no plans to leave Cobram any time soon.

‘‘It’s a good lifestyle, I have a lot more going for me here than back home and it was a good opportunity to come over and do something different,’’ he said.