John Clayton takes the ball up and relaxing.
John Clayton takes the ball up and relaxing.

Comets banking on a big 2012

JOHN Clayton is a big, strong lad who arrived at the Comets as an answer to problems with the team's front row.

Now the big man is hoping his second year in Rockhampton will keep him injury free and also provide a slight change of direction on the pitch.

Clayton is looking forward to the season with enthusiasm and believes the club will be in good shape.

"There have been a few changes around the club," he said.

With the arrival of John Harbin as the coach, Clayton no longer sees himself as strictly a front-rower.

"We've been getting tested out and I could be used as a back-rower or a utility," he said.

"It has been a bit of a while since I played in the back-row. There is a lot more running there.

"I just have to see if I can get 80 minutes out of my body. As a front-rower you just go hard for short sprints."

Over the years Clayton, who played a lot of his football in the New South Wales competition, has been used to playing limited minutes through the interchange, but nevertheless is looking forward to the challenge.

Harbin also sees Clayton as a player capable of switching between front and back-row during the course of a match.

"We'll probably use him in both positions but if I left it up to him he'd play at five-eighth," the coach joked.

Clayton's season was disrupted last year when he suffered a serious injury to a hand, tearing ligaments in a thumb, and only eased his way into selection contention towards the end of the season.

"It is never quite right. I just have to be a bit more careful," he said.

"It happened in a game when I went in to a tackle and afterwards couldn't make a grip."

While Clayton is enjoying working under Harbin, he also has a lot of respect for his former coach Wayne Barnett.

"They are both good coaches, just different," he said. "John has a different approach to Wayne.

"John is a great motivator, very positive.

"It is a good environment at the club and John is creating that bit of respect.''

Even though Clayton is not 24 until later this year, he feels he has a more responsible role as a senior squad member.

"There are some older players and a lot my age and others much younger," he said.

"I find it pretty good to take a role like Mick Esdale had, not leadership but just being friendly (with the younger players)."

The CQ Capras training got under way on Tuesday night after the Christmas break.

The session at Browne Park was a sharp reminder for the players that the run-in to the season is under way.

"It was a very enthusiastic session," coach Harbin said.

Thirty players trained, with numbers slightly down on pre-Christmas sessions due to some players still being away on holiday.

Harbin knows his inexperienced side has a tough season ahead, but sees the Intrust Cup fixture list giving staff and players an opportunity to assess the strength of the competition.

For the season opener the Capras face 2011 wooden-spooner Sunshine Coast at Browne Park on the weekend of March 10-11, and then travel to Brisbane for a match against top team Wynnum Manly.



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