Unlikely rise to the Cats
AUSSIE RULES: Most kids grow up Sherrin in hand, bouncing the ball as they walk to the shops or off the back yard fence.
But Geelong Cats star and Rockhampton product Zac Smith's road to the top is unusual to say the least.
A talented all round sportsman, Smith's career began in the round ball game for Southside United. A goal keeper right? Wrong.
"A lot of people just assume I was a keeper, but I played central defence,” Smith mused.
"Because I was always the tallest in the class, a mate of mine invited me to play with Glenmore Bulls.
"In Year 12 I played in the premiership winning Bulls team and then was picked up by the Zillmere Eagles. Then I got a contract with the Gold Coast Suns.
"So it was definitely a roller coaster ride.”
While some of the game's basics didn't come naturally, Smith was able to draw skills from his Southside days.
"Kicking and marking took me a while to get actually,” he laughed.
"The one thing about both sports is that they're both a 360 game. The game is played all around, so I could take vision learned in soccer to AFL.
"I've always been pretty agile even for a tall bloke which helps. It's still a strength of mine actually.
"That and tackling. I really love this side of the game.”
Smith made the move from the glitter strip 12 months ago, to link with powerhouse Geelong Cats.
The Biloela-born ruckman said it felt like it all clicked straight away.
"I love it here. Only been here 12 months but it doesn't feel like it. Geelong fans love the club and want it to well, they were very acceptive.
"It's a great club with a great culture.”
Geelong and Smith were left to rue the thought of what could have been as the Sydney Swans knocked them out of a grand final.
"We had a fantastic year, made the prelim final but ultimately fell short,” he reflected.
"It does make you hungrier, we basically have to improve. As good teams do, we will look back on them as a big opportunity lost.
"Definitely not settled on that, we want to go one better and win the thing.
"Pre-season has been going really well. I am sure we will be up there again.”