COLLINGWOOD forward Corey Gault feels “indebted” to the Magpies and has set out to repay the club for sticking by him after numerous injury issues.
The 23-year-old was promoted to the senior list during the week, with the Magpies able to elevate a player as a nominated rookie, after an impressive NAB Challenge campaign.
Gault booted eight goals through three games, good enough to place him equal second alongside teammate Alex Fasolo and behind just North Melbourne’s Drew Petrie (10), in the pre-season ‘Coleman Medal’ race.
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His marking ability in pack situations is Gault’s great strength, and he has the flexibility to take on a variety of roles, primarily up forward.
Entering his third season on the club’s rookie list, the 200cm forward is in the mix to feature in Collingwood’s season opener against the Sydney Swans at the SCG on March 26.
“I know that I’ve always given my all to the club and my body’s let me down in the past,” Gault told AFL.com.au.
“For them (the Magpies) to keep me for five years is a big effort.
“I do feel indebted to the club. I’m just hoping I can repay them with good form.”
Initially drafted by Collingwood with pick No.65 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, Gault’s journey at the Magpies has been far from smooth sailing.
The big man’s career hit its first road block when he injured his groin in 2013, forcing him to miss four of the last five games of the VFL season, and he was delisted soon after, although the Magpies committed to drafting him as a rookie at the end of that year.
His career trajectory was altered off course again early the next year when he broke his collarbone against Essendon at Windy Hill, sidelining him until round 12.
There was a bright spot in 2014, though, when Gault was rewarded for his strong VFL form and he made his AFL debut against Hawthorn in round 23.
In 2015, he was picked in the Magpies’ team from rounds three to five, but could not consolidate his place in the side and was sent back to the VFL. Then his season came to a premature end in August when it was discovered he needed groin surgery.
Even during the pre-season just gone he found himself “in another tough spot” when his groins flared up in mid-January and he became worried he may never overcome his injury problems.
“I haven’t really had a good run at it, so hopefully this year I can put it all behind me and play some really good and consistent footy,” he said.
While he only has the four senior appearances to his name, Gault is regarded as one of the most professional players at the Magpies and captain Scott Pendlebury said his teammate deserves his shot at playing at the top level.
“I think it’s the resilience he’s shown,” Pendlebury said.
“He comes to work every day and works really hard in rehab. Then when he’s been out on the track he’s been fantastic.
“Hopefully for Corey he can keep himself fit and healthy. What you’re seeing now is what we’ve seen in patches in pre-season and we’re really looking forward to him having a full season."
It's been a long, and sometimes lonely, journey for Corey Gault. Picture: AFL Media