Sport

Tinkler’s Mr Consistent

By Meg Saultry

He is considered a general of Avenel’s backline.

And if training standards are any indication, Michael Tinkler leaves no stone unturned in his effort to push Avenel towards ultimate success.

It’s perhaps Tinkler’s vocation as a P.E and health teacher that makes him a natural born leader on the field, as he guides his teammates through drills, calling out instructions or encouragement, his passion for the game at the forefront of everything he does.

After a six-year stint with Shepparton Swans in the Goulburn Valley league, the 27-year-old has traded one Swans guernsey for another, and in his second year with Avenel he is a linchpin of the Swans’ defence.

A half-back flank, Tinkler has only missed one match for the Swans this season and week-in, week-out delivers strong performances in front of the club’s red and white loyalists.

‘‘(Consistency) is something I’ve tried to work on when I compare myself to being a junior,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s never been about being the best individual.

‘‘I think if I can be consistent with my standards and preparations and on the field, my intensity, that is where I see my role really progressing and something I’ve done well this year.’’

But this team-first mentality doesn’t hinder Tinkler from identifying small ways to enhance his own game.

‘‘For me it’s a little bit of everything,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d like to think I am an intercept player, so I’m just trying to get better at marking, coming across, and being confident all the time to leave my man and help out.’’

Avenel, which sits outright third in the Kyabram District league, has looked strong at times this season, but it’s the backline which has particularly jelled.

Tinkler said it was the recruitment of key personnel in ‘‘pillars’’ Dean Giles and Sam Durnan that had taken the Swans’ defence to another level this season.

‘‘Last year, right across the board, we had a good defence,’’ he said.

‘‘But adding two mature players with bigger bodies has really helped us.

‘‘What they provide us in terms of leadership has been fantastic as well.’’

But it’s when all six mainstay backmen — with Giles and Durnan joining Tinkler, Michael Morgan, Michael Berry and Ryan Lambert — work as one the Swans’ defence is at its best.

‘‘We’d like to think down in that backline we’re a team within a team and we can really set the standards in terms of voice and intensity,’’ Tinkler said.

‘‘Those little fundamentals can make a big difference in a game of football.’’