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NSW GRASSHOPPER LOOKING TO TEST HIMSELF IN THE SANFL

By Peter Argent
A premiership player with the Coolamon Grasshoppers in the Riverina Football League last year, Murray Stephenson has made the move down south and is endeavouring to have an impact with the Bulldogs.
“I started in ‘Auskick’ back at home, but only started playing Aussie Rules seriously in my mid teens,” Stephenson told cdfc.com.au.
“While I was at school, Rugby League was my primary football code.
“I played three years of senior football back at home before deciding to give the SANFL a go.
“We played in finals in each of those three seasons I was involved a senior level and won the Grand Final last year.
“All four football codes – soccer, rugby league, union and Aussie rules – compete against each other in the Riverina.
“Coolamon is about 40 kilometres north of Wagga.
“In my time at the Grasshoppers, and yes they were green and white, Matt Hand was an important mentor of mine.”
Along with enjoying premiership success with his older brother Mitchell at the Grasshoppers, Stephenson also played Riverina representative football with his sibling in 2013.
Now 21, the 192cm, 90 kg key defender who played full back in last year’s flag winning effort, is looking to cement a role in the Central District backline.
“My role was to take the opposition’s key forward,” Stephenson confirmed.
“A part of the reason I came to the Ponderosa is I knew Luke Habel and Sam Milne from Ganmain-Grong-Grong-Matong.
“They are the next three towns down the highway from us.”
“I also like the way Roy (senior coach Laird) spoke – the way he called a spade a spade.”
While Stephenson has missed the first couple of rounds of the 2014 campaign, his first impressions were that the SANFL was a lot quicker and cleaner than what he had experienced before.
Stephenson is expected to make his SANFL debut at Playford Alive Oval this Saturday against the Adelaide Crows.
“He has quickly fitted into our programs and has been well received by the group,” coaching staff member Jeff Brown confirmed.
“Murray is courageous, puts has body on the line and is a good overhead mark.
“Another strength is he reads the game well and gets himself into good positions to compete.
“We are looking for Murray to hold down a key position or third tall role in defence.
“Until he was injured he had shown a fair bit of endeavour in the trials games.”   
An electrician by trade, the coaching staff will be looking for Stephenson to be a spark in defence.

Stephenson, who impressed in Centrals Trial Matches this year and is a chance to Debut on Saturday.

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