Jared Brennan is desperate to fight his way back into Gold Coast's best 22
JARED Brennan credits an off-season stint of social basketball for helping to rediscover his passion for footy.
The uniquely talented Gold Coast Sun had a horror 2012, being dropped twice by coach Guy McKenna despite playing in an injury-depleted team that won just three games.
One of the Suns' best-paid and highest-profile recruits was out of form and out of love with the game.
He finished the season in the reserves, sustaining an ankle injury in front of a few hundred people in an NEAFL match at Redland in Brisbane.
With a year to run on his contract and his career at the crossroads, Brennan spent part of his off-season going back to doing something he loved as a kid.
Without telling the Suns, he drove 60 kilometres up the Pacific Motorway to Brisbane each Wednesday night for a couple of months to play social basketball.
"I didn't speak to the club, the club don't know I went and played," Brennan said.
"They'll probably find out now, but it's done and dusted. I felt it was something I really had to do. I had to find a love for sports again.
"A mate said 'I'm playing b-ball on a Wednesday night'. It was the off-season and I knew there was a risk of injury, but I thought there was more to be gained by playing than there wasn't.
"All signs are good and I've found the love of sport again and the passion of why I play. I credit a bit of that to playing a local b-ball comp in Brissie. It was something I loved doing."
Brennan said although he was unlikely to play social basketball every off-season, he felt it was necessarily to regain his mojo.
"It was just a thing that progressed, to go back and do something for the love of it," he said.
"There's more to life than just playing football. Playing b-ball socially, with some mates at a rec centre on a Wednesday night, just created a massive love for sports again, which I didn't have for a few years. It was kind of refreshing."
The veteran of 158 games for the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast certainly came back refreshed, being voted by his teammates as the best performed at the Suns' high altitude training camp in Arizona in November.
For the first time since his early days at the Lions, Brennan is locked in a dogfight to prove he is in the best 22 players at his club.
He said it was the first time in five years he had not undergone a post-season operation, and was looking forward to staking his first claim in Saturday night's NAB Cup openers against the Lions and Hawthorn.
"To fight my way back into the best 22 is my goal for the off-season," he said.
"It's the first time for a long time that I've had to prove myself to be in the best 22 which is a bit daunting, but I've put in a great base to be able to do that."
Jared Brennan is a defender in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 73 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.
Michael Whiting covers Gold Coast news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting