By ZAC MILBANK
Norwood star Matt Panos is the first to admit he didn’t think he would reach his 100th Statewide Super League game.
Returning to his beloved Redlegs for the 2013 SANFL season after three years with the Western Bulldogs, Panos was struck down by a series of serious hamstring injuries which forced him to watch on as his team-mates streaked to back-to-back premierships.
Little did he know, 12 months later he would be standing on the dais with a Premiership and Jack Oatey Medal around his neck having transformed himself into one of the competition’s most damaging midfielders.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Panos was full of praise for 2014 premiership coach Ben Warren and assistant Scott Bassett who instigated the 191cm forward’s move into the centre square.
The 28-year-old was initially told he could always move back inside attacking 50m if things didn’t pan out. Needless to say he is now a fixture in the midfield rotation under current coach Jarrod Cotton, who also handed Panos his League debut while caretaker coach in Round 18 of 2009.
On that day, Panos has fond memories of playing alongside current Crows captain Taylor Walker while also being fed his first goal by then team-mate Mark Evans, who was also in his debut year.
The irony isn’t lost on vice-captain Panos given Evans will also be present at The Parade on Friday night, but this time as an opposition player for Sturt.