Hawk Headquarters
Brent Guerra's hair force
Written by: Mark Robinson
Herald Sun

MARK ROBINSON: They told me no media when you're playing well.

BRENT GUERRA: Not really. It's just that when I first went to St Kilda I was kicking a couple of goals and then started doing a bit of media and for the next 10 weeks I didn't really get a kick. I'm not putting it down to that, but I didn't really want to do it again and go down the same track.

Are you superstitious?

I am a little.

What's the craziest thing you do?

I wear the same jocks every week. They're blue.


Every year I have a different pair and I wear them for the whole year.

A phone call came to the office from your friends at the Hair Institute, offering me a free whatever they're called. A free session or sessions. What do you reckon?

Go for it. It changed me.

It changed you?

It has changed me (laughing).

New club, new hair, new position, new girlfriend?

Ummm, no new girlfriend.

How much has the hair changed your outlook on life? Strange question, but does it make you feel better, more confident, which, in turn, makes you play better football?

I'm much more confident, a lot more confident. Just (laughing) yeah, every time I looked up at the big screen and saw my receding hairline, I used to think what other people would be thinking.

I never thought anything bad of it.

It has made me confident.

The head's not on your mind when you run out?

No . . . it might be helping me get a kick.

You're certainly doing that, getting a kick.

I'm really enjoying my footy at the moment. Clarko (coach Alastair Clarkson) has given me a big opportunity to play down back. I played there with him at (SANFL club) Central District in 2001 and 2002, when we won a couple of flags, and it's been great down back alongside (Joel) Smithy, Danny Jacobs, (Brad) Sewelly, Zac Dawson and Laddo (Rick Ladson).

It's a small backline and unheralded.

There is a lot of small blokes but Sewell plays as a tall, DJ (Danny Jacobs) plays on the big boys, so does Smithy and then you've got myself and Laddo off the half-backs.

And you being there has released Luke Hodge to the middle.

It has. He did it late last year when (Campbell) Browny was playing back, but Browny has been able to go up forward and kick a few goals.

Have you given up pinging the opposition off the square? I suppose you can't do that from half-back because if the ball goes over your head and your man kicks a goal, Clarkson will rip your heart out.

He will. I think I'll be giving that a miss off the square this year, but if it happens to be around the ground I certainly won't be taking a backward step.

Do you miss it?

Not really.

You're good at it, aren't you?

St Kilda had me doing it most weeks, coming off the line.

Did Grant Thomas order you to come off the line and take people out?

No, no, not at all. He used to say, run in pretty hard and . . .

Hit as many as you can?

Yeah, just try to get a bit of body contact in there, getting them looking over their shoulders.

Which does work?

Yeah, it does. I suppose Aaron Hamill's the same, when he's charging in off the square the blokes are looking over their shoulders.

There was a lot of comment made that it was a cheap shot, that it was cowardly. How did you deal with all that talk?

Well, as long as I wasn't getting reported, I used to love doing it. I actually enjoyed coming off the line and helping my teammates if I'm hitting their opponent.

What about the argument that it might not have been in the spirit of the game?

Most of the times I actually crunched someone when I either had the ball in my hand or they had the ball in their hand.

Cameron Bruce was exactly that?

Cameron Bruce's was only a tackle.

You were a mean little bastard, weren't you?

(Laughing) If they had the ball I'd have a crack and if I had the ball I'd do the same. It's footy.

How old are you, mate, 23?


Twenty-three at your third AFL club. It's unusual?

It is. I had four years at Port Adelaide and I just thought it was time for me to come home. At the time, Port was going pretty well and I had played a lot footy on and off the bench and some weeks I'd miss out so I thought I'd come home. St Kilda bobbed up and I was happy to go there. Thommo gave me a chance early on.

And then he gave you the boot?

At the end he did, yeah.

Did he give you a reason?

Me and (Stephen) Milney were fighting for the one spot and Milney being the player he is, he always kicks goals every week. I played 13 games last year and probably played a lot off the bench with Milney. But Thommo basically said there wasn't too many spots for me in the side and thought it was time for me to move on.

I was talking to St Kilda president Rod Butterss yesterday and he said to me "Goo was as lazy as he was when he played".

I don't know about lazy. This year has been my best pre-season I've had, I haven't missed a session and it's paying off now.

Obviously you're a solid reader of the ball because you're finding a lot of it, but you also look better. Your disposal, your length of disposal, and you're running better. You don't look as slow as you did at St Kilda.

It could be the hair as well.

(Laughing) You might be Sampson, mate?

(laughing) I've dropped probably five kilos from last year and my skinfolds were around 48 last year and they're at 37 this year. And not missing any sessions makes a big difference.

Can I ask you if you dropped 5kg at Hawthorn why couldn't you have dropped it at St Kilda?

Just the consistency of training, I think. At St Kilda I had a few niggling injuries and missed a lot of sessions and missed a lot of pre-season, too. But I was lucky . . . at Hawthorn the fitness coach, Andrew Russell, brought me into it very slow at the start and built me up to it. Now he's got me doing everything and that's really helped me.

Is it a cliche to say you might've found your football home?

I do feel like that. The boys have been fantastic, the coaching staff, I do feel really comfortable down there.

How many games have you played?

I play my 100th this week.

How fortuitous. I didn't know that. Anyway, it's a fair strike rate, that's six years of footy.

And I've probably only played 10 full games.

Why's that? Fitness? Playing half-forward which meant you were a hit-and-miss merchant?

That's what it was like at Port and at St Kilda. But now it releases me down the back instead of trying to be a pinch-hitter up forward and going on and off the ground.

Proud moment, 100 games?

Yeah. I didn't think I would actually get here.

Were you an outstanding junior or were you a battling junior?

I was probably one of the bigger ones in the juniors, I just haven't grown much. I sort of played middle, half-forward and used to get a lot of possessions in the midfield.

Is it a battle now?

The last two years I found it a battle, just because me and Milney were fighting for that one spot. Trying to kick goals week in week out, when you've got blokes such as Fraser Gehrig, Nick Riewoldt and Kosi (Justin Koschitzke) marking the ball, yeah, I found it a battle.

What's the difference between Clarkson and Thomas, if anything?

(long pause) Thomas and Clarko are both pretty good. I've found it pretty easy to go up and talk to both of them. Obviously, I'm more confident with Clarko because he coached me before, and he's given me more opportunities. Yeah, I just find it a lot easier to go up to speak to Clarko.

Opposition teams would probably love you on the back flank, thinking they could run you around, get away from you. Do they try to isolate you with a quicker match-up?

Not really. I found on the weekend (against Geelong) they were trying to take the half-backs back to the goal-line. I started on (Shannon) Byrnes and then had (Gary) Ablett.

Byrnes is perhaps their fastest player and Ablett is Ablett. So the speed players are no worry?

No. Brad Sewell takes those kind of blokes. It doesn't really worry the coaching staff who we get down there as long as we're comfortable with it.

So you've got the power to chop and change yourselves?

Yeah, we have.

Who's king of the backline?

Danny Jacobs. He probably reads the ball best out of all of us.

He can say, 'Goo, I reckon you should swap and pick up so and so?'

Oh, no. If me and Laddo thought we needed to swap, we'd do it ourselves. But if something needs to be done, Danny will speak up and tell us. And Joel Smith, he's probably the most experienced bloke down there and he'll tell us if we're doing something right or wrong.

So, big night planned for your 100th? Family and friends coming?

I've got mum and dad coming down from Koondrook, my grandparents, my sister.

Perfect, mate. They'd all be rapt with the hair, wouldn't they?

Yeah. Actually, the old man said, 'You bastard' because he's bald (laughing). No, Dad was so happy because he knew what I was going through because he was the same at my age.

I'm a fraction older than you. What can you recommend for me?

Ring them back and go for it.

Any opponents say anything to you?

No. Actually, Jeff Farmer said, 'Good on ya, mate'.

You wouldn't expect that from the 'Wiz'?

I know, I know, he said, 'It looks good'.

Can you do us a favour? Ask Clarkson to put you on the forward flank and come off the line for old time's sake.

Yep, will do.

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