Thurlow’s strong season rewarded

Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow soars over Sydney’s Brandon Jack in Saturday’s win. For his efforts Jackson claimed the round 19 NAB Rising Star nomination. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

MELBOURNE – When Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow suffered a lacerated kidney in the preseason he looked to teammate Tom Lonergan for inspiration.

But, it’s fellow defender Corey Enright he wants to emulate in the long term.

Thurlow was hospitalised for six days after copping a stray elbow to his midsection in an innocuous training incident last December.

The 21-year-old insists his injury was only “minor” in comparison, but it was serious enough to keep him from joining in full-contact training until April and for Lonergan to offer his protective guard.

He’s since recovered to play 15 games in a breakout season across half-back for the Cats and claim the round 19 NAB Rising Star nomination.

The Launceston product recently signed a new three-year contract extension and looks destined to fill Enright’s boots once the three-time premiership star retires.

“The way he (Enright) goes about his footy and the right times he chooses to leave his man and go third up is something I’m trying to base my game on,” Thurlow said.

“At the stage our footy club is at the moment it’s really important for the younger guys to keep pushing the older guys along. It just makes our footy club better.

“I grew up watching those guys play in premierships and to be now training and playing with them is really exciting, but it’s really fun as well.”

At 190cm, Thurlow has the versatility to play on different sized forwards, highlighted by his ability to defend both Sam Day and Brandon Matera against Gold Coast in Round 3.

“I’ve got to do a lot more research on smaller and taller type players because I could end up on both,” he said.

Thurlow gathered 18 disposals on Saturday night to help the Cats upset the Swans and mark Joel Selwood’s 200th game.

“Everyone really respects him and admires how he goes about his work,” he said of Selwood. “To hear the Geelong fans really get around Joel and us as a playing group is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my footy career.”

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