An exciting edition to this weekend’s TSL fixture is the return of Lauderdale’s marquee signing and assistant coach, Allen Christensen. The head coach of the Southern Bombers, Daniel Willing, announcing the news in Thursday’s press conference at Blundstone Arena.
Saturday will mark 35 days since Christensen sustained an injury to his left hamstring tendon, a remarkable turnaround from what was initially believed to be an 8-10-week rehab. Speaking on his own experience, Christensen said, “After the first four or five days, I progressed relatively quickly. We built strength back in to it early and especially over the last 2 or 3 weeks I’ve been able to push it a little bit and get some really high k’s in to my legs, which you’re not usually able to do a quarter of the way in to a season.”
Willing expressed his delight towards a professional and accelerated program that has seen his star recruit return in such fashion. “In the press, we were saying 6 to 8 max, but in our heads, we were thinking it could be as long as 10. It’s really been an eye opener to see a player from where he’s come from and to watch him do his rehab, just how diligent he was in getting back as quick as he could.”
Christensen assured his coach he was a “quick healer” and not to worry, but admittedly Willing had fears of a lengthy break. These concerns were short-lived when he saw the work going in to the recovery. “When you’re a new coach and your best player goes down in those circumstances, it’s a bit of a worry.
“Training nights I’m sitting in my office, and you look out the window to see him doing his running and all his other little bits and pieces he needs to do to get himself back quickly. It was just amazing to watch and something I think our playing group can really take something from.”
Christensen suffered the injury in Lauderdale’s round 2 loss to Kingborough, the start of a four-game losing streak for the Bombers which is yet to be snapped. Clearly the impact of the injury has been felt throughout the side, after showing a lot of promise in their season opener versus Clarence. Christensen had shone with 3 goals and a game-high 13 tackles, inspiring his team in their 6-point win.
“There’s definitely that part, when I was out there round 1, the boys walk a little bit taller. You could see when I got injured against Kingston it flattened the group a bit.”
Speaking on the group’s form during his stint on the sidelines, Christensen said, “We’ve played some really poor patches and haven’t been able to put it together in a way that allows us to score. Going inside 50, we’re taking the wrong option and we (the TSL clubs) all watch each other now and we’re being read pretty easily. We need to be less one-dimensional, hoping to start this week.”
The return is likely to spark a lot of energy in to an underperforming Lauderdale outfit, who need a shift in momentum if they’re to push for finals. Before last week’s bye, the club had suffered two disappointing losses in a row. The first being a blowout to North Launceston, followed by an 18-point loss to North Hobart, their first win of the season.
This Saturday, the challenges don’t get any easier. An away trip to Windsor Park awaits the Southern Bombers to take on an undefeated Launceston side that has shown mountains of quality in the first part of the 2021 season. Many know this fixture as the most daunting task in the TSL, but Christensen says his lack of history with the Blues will be valuable to him and his side.
“I’ve obviously never played against them, so I don’t have the fear that other people do. But they’re 5 and 0, and have been touching-up teams, they deserve to be confident. We think we have the means to not only go up and match them, but if we get going we will be very competitive.”
Willing suggests Christensen’s impact at Lauderdale transcends his on-field abilities, referencing his involvement with the young demographic at the club and dedication to their program.
“He’s got unbelievable character, he’s so humble and the guys love him. He talks about his experiences in the AFL only in a way to get some things across to our younger players. He’s been pretty special for our footy club.”
Christensen and the Lauderdale Football Club take on Launceston at 2pm @Windsor Park this Saturday.