James Aish is happy playing for the biggest club in the AFL. Picture: AAP Images
James Aish is happy playing for the biggest club in the AFL. Picture: AAP Images

Why the pressure of being a Pie is worth it

WHEN James Aish left Brisbane for Melbourne he didn't just enter a new city but a whole new world.

The Aish family are South Australian football royalty so he knows a thing or two about profile and expectation.

But nothing he saw as a kid or in his early days in the AFL with the Lions prepared him for life as a Magpie.

And in three years at Collingwood the spotlight has never shone brighter than grand final week - which began with a media day in which 100 interviews were conducted.

Aish enjoyed the laidback nature of being a footballer in Brisbane but said the pressure of playing for one of the country's biggest clubs was worth it for the opportunity to play in front of big crowds.

"It is certainly is different, both have their pros and cons,'' he said.

"I really enjoyed my time at Brisbane and I've been keeping an eye on them and I think they are heading in the right direction and have a very promising future.

James Aish tackles Daniel Rioli in the preliminary final. Picture: Getty Images
James Aish tackles Daniel Rioli in the preliminary final. Picture: Getty Images

"The pressure and expectation at Collingwood is another level, but you come to appreciate the big games and you feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play in the big games we get here at Collingwood.

"But obviously there's been nothing like this weekend. ''

The midfielder, taken by Brisbane with pick seven in the 2013, is one of four former Lions teammates who will do battle in Saturday's AFL grand final.

Teammate Jack Crisp is a mainstay for the Pies, while Elliot Yeo is West Coast's reigning club champion and fellow Eagle Jack Redden is playing the best football of his career.

Aish was also in career best for at the start of this season before he injured his posterior cruciate ligament in round six.

He said although each week while he was sidelined, the Pies looked more and more like genuine contenders, he didn't fear he would miss out.

"It was probably the best batch of games I have played the most consistent I have been and I was a bit unlucky to get injured,'' he said.

James Aish is having his best year for Collingwood. Picture: Getty Images
James Aish is having his best year for Collingwood. Picture: Getty Images

"I missed 13 AFL games but I was pretty fortunate that I had enough time to get back into the team.

"I was never too worried to be honest, I was always thinking that as long as I can do what is in my control there would be an opportunity for me.

"In football there is always injuries, something always opens up.''

The opportunity that presented itself was a new challenge playing as a defender in the Pies makeshift backline, and he felt he was adapting well.

"I have been reasonably happy. It is a different role for me and on the weekend I was even a bit deeper as a defender which was new again,'' he said.

"I'm really enjoying it, and the boys that are down there, we all love playing together. ''


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