Flexibility cements Fuller’s position
NATHAN Fuller epitomises the phrase “for the best interests of the team.”
The Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka premiership player has played almost every position on the field since making his debut for the Demons way back in round one of the 1999 season against Ardlethan.
This season has been no different, with coach Shane Lenon lapping up Fuller’s versatility and the 29-year-old has been used in a range of different roles including as a key defender, power forward, second ruckman and even as a midfielder.
Just days away from CAK’s Riverina Football League grand final showdown with Narrandera at Narrandera Sportsground on Sunday, Fuller said he was again preparing himself to play in any position on the field.
“My role will be to start on the bench and be used as the utility again,” Fuller said.
“Sparks (Lenon) uses me in that utility role these days.
“If there is a tall match-up for me I will go on in defence, if I am needed forward I can go there and I would say I will be used as a chop-out in the ruck.”
While most players prefer stability and continuity in football, Fuller said he was just happy to be a part of the CAK team and was embracing the role of being the Demons’ version of Mr Fix It.
“I had a chat to Sparks a couple of years ago and I said to him that my best footy was probably behind me and that I would be happy to play whatever role he needed from me,” Fuller said.
“I have been doing it for a couple of years now and I am used to it – I even found myself in the midfield and wing rotation a couple of weeks ago.
“Sparks just says to me to keep an open mind.
“I am honestly happy to play wherever the team needs me to play as long as I am playing my role and bettering the team.”
Fuller has played more than 200 senior games for CAK and has been one of the most respected figures at the club over the past 13 years.
Fuller’s career hit a low point last season when he was left out of CAK’s first grade team during the finals.
However, Fuller has worked hard this season and has developed into one of the premier utility players in the RFL.
“It (being dropped last year) was never a sore point,” Fuller said.
“I understood it and I am just happy to be back in the team and playing any role that the team needs me to play.
“I would definitely rather be in the team than not.”
Fuller is a loyal servant of CAK and he has been rewarded with a decorated and successful football career, which could reach another highlight on Sunday should the Demons complete their wonderful season by winning the premiership.
In a remarkable record, Fuller has played in a total of seven first grade grand finals for four premiership wins.
Fuller won first grade flags with CAK in the Farrer League in 2003, 2008,2009 and 2010 and he also was a member of the 2002 Demons’ reserve-grade team, which won the premiership.
On the other side of the ledger, Fuller also lost three grand finals in a row when CAK was beaten in 2005,2006 and 2007.
Fuller has seen both the highs a premiership can bring, and the lows a grand final defeat can cause.
“I have been pretty lucky to play with some good teams in this era for the club,” Fuller said.
“I have been lucky enough to play with blokes like Aiken (Brad), Gow (Chris) and Jason Wild in 2008 – that 2008 team is the best team I have ever played in.
“Playing with, and being coached by Sparks, has been excellent as well and I am lucky to have a record that looks pretty good.
“I played in plenty of different roles in those grand finals, some forward and some back, but I think of myself as very lucky to have played in this team.
After winning the three successive premierships in 2008,2009 and 2010, CAK joined the RFL last year and will be looking to win its first ever premiership in the competition on Sunday.
The move from the Farrer League to the RFL by CAK was ridiculed by some football pundits and Fuller admitted he would be fuelled by a desire to silence some critics on Sunday.
“It (winning the premiership) would mean everything personally after I was dropped last year and it would be awesome for the club to prove a lot of the doubters wrong,” Fuller said.
“From a club perspective making a grand final in our second year back in the competition is a great achievement and it would be even better if we could go all the way.”
Despite all of his grand final experience, Fuller admitted he was still feeling the regulation nerves regarding the grand final.
“I have been a little bit nervous since we won (second semi-final win over Coolamon) and made it in to the grand final,” Fuller said.
“Nerves are a good sign, as Sparks says, if you are nervous it is good because it means a lot to you.”
Standing in the way of a watershed RFL premiership for CAK and a fifth flag for Fuller is a rampant Narrandera outfit that has won three successive sudden-death finals to storm into the premiership-decider.
Adding to the challenge for CAK, the Demons have been unable to beat Narrandera at two attempts this season.
Fuller conceded Narrandera would be full of confidence on Sunday but said he was confident CAK could exorcise its Eagles demons and come away with the flag.
“We haven’t spoken about that (defeats to Narrandera) to be honest,” Fuller said.
“We honestly believe if we turn up and stick to our game-plan and our structures then we can beat any team.
“But we know we will have to be at our best to beat Narrandera because they are a really good side and have been in great form.”
After finishing the home-and-away season with the minor premiership, CAK went straight into the grand final by beating Coolamon by 21 points at Crossroads Oval in the second semi-final.
The win gave CAK the opportunity to have a break last week and Fuller said the week off had been a blessing for the Demons.
“I think it will probably be an advantage, having the week off,” Fuller said.
“We have a few older players in our team and it gave us a chance to freshen up.
“We will have our full-strength team available to choose from and everyone will be 100%.”
Picture: CAK utility Nathan Fuller (number 23) embraces team-mates following a grand final win over Marrar in the Farrer League.