By Russell Bennett
Tough, hard, aggressive, uncompromising, and a vocal presence with high standards – it’s little wonder Officer young-gun Callum Porter has been named one of the vice captains of the Gippsland Power TAC Cup side this season.
Supporting skipper Aidan Quigley, Porter is one of two vice captains in 2017 alongside Sale’s Will Stephenson.
Porter had a huge impact in 2016, winning the most disciplined player award and setting the preparation and training standards for his team mates to follow.
He’s relishing his chance to help lead a young Gippsland side that showed plenty of encouraging signs in its first hit-out of the season against the Dandenong Stingrays, despite fielding 10 debutants.
“My first experience with the Power was in the Under 15s,” Porter explained.
“I played that carnival, and the Under 16s carnival as well, so this is my fourth year in the program.
“I suppose the leadership opportunity came off the back of last year. I think I had a fairly strong year.
“I try to set the standards at training and learn off guys like Aidan Quigley.
“He’s someone I’ve spent a lot of time with and I’ve tried to get as much out of him as possible.
“It was similar with (Gold Coast’s) Ben Ainsworth in the side last year. I’ve just tried to spend as much time with those guys as I can and to try and grow as much as possible as a player and leader.”
Porter was voted into the Power’s leadership group this year by his team-mates – something he takes real pride in.
“It’s always a blessing and a great feeling to know you’ve got the support of your team-mates,” he said.
“Going into game day knowing that you can be that leader for the guys out there is fantastic.
“They can improve you, and you can get the response the team needs out of those players as well.
“I think my voice is one of my strengths – I’m probably a vocal leader – and along with that it’s saying how things should be done, and then doing them.
“On and off the field, I’m just trying to be as elite as possible and show the younger boys how things are supposed to be done.”
Porter spoke highly of Nar Nar Goon youngster Bailey Beck, who he’s particularly close with and is helping along the way.
And he’s constantly striving to improve his own game as an all-round player.
“I played my first game last year in Round 4 against the Murray Bushrangers and that was probably the quickest footy I’d ever experienced,” he said.
“The sort of feedback I got from that, and this is something I’ve improved on, is that I needed more of a balance in being an inside and outside player.
“This year I’ll try and rest forward and try and impact the scoreboard and be more versatile. That’s how I’m aiming to grow this year. I’ll still bring my strengths to the table – my tackling, clean hands, and winning the inside ball – but I think if I can add a bit more run, speed and footskills on the outside that’s how I’ll progress.”
Porter thanked his family for all their tireless support, as well as footy mentors Ben Tivendale and Mick Moylan, and also praised Power coach Leigh Brown for his approach.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had – he’s very strong and gets the most out of his players and the feedback he provides to us is amazing,” Porter said.
“He’s very upfront, and that’s what you want your coach to be. He’s got a good balance of being relentless, but being caring at the same time.
“We’re really blessed to have someone like him to lead the group. He’s been really good for me – I’ve had nothing but great experiences with him.”