Sandhurst’s ultimate team man

Nick Stagg kicks one of his 35 goals for Sandhurst in the 2016 home and away season. Picture: NONI HYETT

Nick Stagg kicks one of his 35 goals for Sandhurst in the 2016 home and away season. Picture: NONI HYETT

Nick Stagg has three great passions in life – family, friends and footy.

All three are indelibly linked with his beloved Sandhurst Football Netball Club.

You don’t have to watch Stagg play for long to know that he bleeds maroon and blue.

 “During my childhood I was always around the club because my older brothers were playing with the Dragons,’’ Stagg said.

“I’ve had Sandhurst in my blood for my whole life.

“The friendship group is a big one for me. When I started playing under-18s I was playing with high school mates. Since I’ve been playing seniors there’s been a core group of mates that just keep coming back to the club.

“I love every aspect of the club. The committee is great and the supporters are great to me. It’s the best place for me to play footy and I’ll be playing there for as long as I can.”

Stagg has played more than 150 senior games for the club and represented the BFNL at inter-league level.

The one thing missing is a premiership medal.

He only has to think of older brother Matt for premiership inspiration.

As a football mad teenager, Stagg would walk past Matt’s bedroom and look with jealousy at a framed Sandhurst jumper with a BFNL premiership medal hanging next to it.

That jumper and premiership medal have been one of the driving forces behind Stagg’s desire to win a senior flag with the Dragons.

“Seeing Matt get the ultimate success at BFNL level has driven me,’’ Stagg said.

“I really want to win a flag for the cub. It’s now been 12 years since Sandhurst won a flag, which is too long.

“The 2004 team spoke to us before the 2014 grand final and that talk only made me want to win one even more.

“We’ve lost the past two (grand finals) and when you get so close it makes you want it even more.”

Stagg gets a third opportunity to win a BFNL premiership when the Dragons tackle arch-rival Golden Square in the grand final at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday.

Unlike the previous two years, this time around the Dragons are warm favourites.

“The past two years we went about it the hard way and had to play in four finals,’’ Stagg said.

“This year we had the luxury of having the week off. 

“The last two years I thought it would be a bad thing for us to have a week off, but this year I realise just how much of an advantage it is.

“The body feels so much better and we have everyone fit and ready to go. 

“Other years we had injuries and we didn’t know if some players were going to play until the day of the game.

“We’re better off this year, but in saying that, hopefully, the result is different on Saturday.

“We have a massive task in front of us because we know we if we’re not on we could be in big strife.”

Stagg, front left, with the 2014 BFNL inter-league team which defeated Gippsland at the QEO.

Stagg, front left, with the 2014 BFNL inter-league team which defeated Gippsland at the QEO.

Stagg made his name in the BFNL as an aggressive, inside midfielder.

When Wayne Primmer took over as Sandhurst coach at the start of this year he told Stagg he wanted him to spend more time as a small forward.

After not liking the decision to start with, Stagg has become one of the best small forwards in the competition. He has kicked 35 goals for the season and his tackling pressure inside forward 50 is as good as any in the league.

“We batted pretty deep in the midfield last year and then we added Heighty (Kristan Height) this year, which pushed a couple of starting midfielders into the forward line and I was one of them,’’ Stagg said.

“I love being in the contest and getting the pill, so it took me a little while to get used to the idea (of playing forward).

“Now it’s my role and I’ve enjoyed spending more time forward. I pride myself on the chase down tackles and the forward pressure.

“Being on the end of a couple of goals is always handy as well.”

Stagg’s form mid-season led Primmer to declare that the Dragons’ number eight was the club’s on-field barometer.

Stagg’s Sandhurst team-mates will tell you that he is also the club’s barometer off the field.

When it comes to Sandhurst social functions, more often than not Stagg is in contention for the three votes.

“Prim (Wayne Primmer) has labeled me the barometer on the field which makes me feel pretty important,’’ he said.

“In regards to off the field, I don’t mind a beer and like to get things started.

“The boys do enjoy it and someone has to take control. It’s pretty easy with the group we have. We’re great mates and we see each other three times a week with training and games… plus we tend to catch up on the off days as well.

“We’re a tight group and the more time we spend together the better.”

Sandhurst assistant coach Keiran Nihill played with and coached Stagg at senior level.

Nihill said Stagg epitomised what being a great clubman is.

“Staggy is a unique character,’’ Nihill said.

“He’s passionate, the boys all love him and he’s a great team-mate.

 “As passionate as he is on the field, he’s the same way off the field. He’s jovial and enjoys club life.

“Every club needs characters like Staggy that love their footy and are passionate about the club.”

Stagg’s efforts off-field are just as consistent as the way he throws himself into packs on the field.

The word around the traps is that the Dragons’ Den social room is often referred to as “Staggy’s Den”.

“Not true,’’ Stagg said with a laugh.

“I might have referred to it as that after a few beers one night, but it’s definitely the Dragons’ Den.”

Should the Dragons be in front when the final siren sounds on Saturday, the celebrations will be long and hard.

Stagg has been front and square inside Sandhurst’s forward 50 all year and there’s no doubt he’ll be the same in “Staggy’s Den” for much of next week.

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