While Carlton inflicted a 91-point defeat on the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba to celebrate the start of Easter festivities, the Blues’ Irish star Zach Tuohy took the time to heap praise on his compatriot and opposition player Pearce Hanley in the aftermath of the annihilation.
“He’s the best Irish player in the AFL and he has been for a few years now,” Tuohy said of Hanley.
“He’s someone I aspire to be like. And I know that if I ever needed help or had any issues, I could call him.”
While Tuohy modestly attributed the 154 point to 63 score line on the Lions’ short turnaround of five days since their win over Melbourne and also their travel schedule, he admitted it’s exciting to play for a side that are being touted as Premiership hopefuls.
“It is exciting and it’s been on the cards for a few years now. But there’s a long way to go and we’ve got some really tough sides that we need to play against, sides that are more experienced and probably have the edge on us. But it is exciting to get a win like that away from home. The conditions are difficult up there. It’s more hot and humid than Melbourne so to play well in that is a good thing.”
While Tuohy also managed to get his name on the scoreboard, he insisted that he wouldn’t be looking for a permanent move to the forward line any time soon.
“It’s nice to score as it doesn’t happen very often. It just gives me another string to my bow. That’s important because when the match committee gets together, you want to give them as many reasons as possible to select you. I’ve also been playing in the midfield for patches of the game so it’s good to play in different positions.”
While Tuohy faced off against the Irish duo of Hanley and Niall McKeever in Brisbane, next weekend’s AFL fixture also has a strong Irish flavour with the Laois man getting the chance to line out against Collingwood’s Martin Clarke for the first time.
Not only is the pair yet to play against each other, they have yet to meet.
“I’ve never even met him so I’m looking forward to playing against him and hopefully getting to meet him afterwards. You never know, we might even end up playing on each other. He’s been really impressive so far and to do what he’s doing and come back and just slot into one of the best sides in the competition speaks volumes.”
Tuohy insisted that the fact that the former Gaelic footballers have yet to meet wouldn’t affect how he goes about taking Clarke on, on the field.
“Whether we’ve met each other or not doesn’t count when it comes to playing against one another. At the end of the day, he’s from Down,” Tuohy laughed.
The Blues player will have plenty of family support this year with his sister Naomi on holidays in Melbourne at the moment and planning to attend this weekend’s blockbuster fixture against the Pies to support her brother, while his parents will make their annual visit in June.
While family support is strong, Tuohy has been without the company of his former teammate Setanta Ó hAilpín, now continuing his career with Greater Western Sydney.
Tuohy said that now he’s in his third year, he’s feeling good about where his development is at and his role in the team.
“There are players that I can go to for advice. I’ve spent some time with Heath Scotland now that I’m playing a bit more in the midfield. But now that I’m in my third season, I feel like I’m less dependent on other players. I just feel more comfortable now.”
The Blues’ star also attributes a good run with injuries to his impressive start to the season.
“I’ve been really lucky because I had a few niggles in pre-season. I’ve always had dodgy groins and I did suffer a little in the off-season but thankfully it turned out to be nothing. I also had a back issue but everything just cleared up by the time the season proper started which is great.”