Key defender Harry Arnold is relishing his role as the main man in defence of an undefeated Brisbane Lions VFL side.
As a tall key backman, Arnold often takes the best forward each week and has kept his opponents quiet contributing nicely to the Lions’ unbeaten start to the year.
“I’d gone from playing QAFL to training and marking up on Joe [Daniher], you’re there asking yourself do I belong here,” Arnold explained.
“But coming into this season I was confident I could play on those type of guys after doing it all preseason.
“I am feeling confident and I think that is massive for me, when you are confident it is amazing what can happen.”
Arnold is in a unique position within the Club as a VFL-listed player, often combining a full-time job with his training commitments, which can lead to long demanding days.
As someone who has been a part of the VFL program since the Lions inception into the competition in 2021, Arnold understands the need to be driver of energy for the group.
“I like to bring an energy to the group, for the VFL listed guys it can be hard if you work all day,” he said,
“Some of the boys are on the tools for eight to 10 hours and then have to turn up and do gym.
“It is easy to walk through the door and say, ‘I’ve had a bad day’ and you might not want to be there, which is when it’s important to have people around that can lift each other up.
“We are also really supported by the AFL boys, I feel like it is a squad of 50 players and it really promotes that culture around the club.”
A teacher by trade, Arnold has been able to complete his university degree while still training at an elite level, something he thanks the coaching staff for pushing within the playing group.
“I’m a relief teacher, mostly P.E (Physical Education) but I really enjoy it because it makes every day different and it keeps me busy plus it pays the bills.
“It is something Mitch Hahn and now Huddo [Ben Hudson] are very big on for the VFL program.
“They want to make sure we had a good balance of work and study because we aren’t at the Club every day, so we need to make sure we are doing something outside of footy.”
Arnold has been part of the Brisbane Lions VFL program for a number of years, first signing on for the 2021 season which was never completed.
“This is my third year, my first year was a different season, a very strange time,” Arnold said.
“I had glandular fever and a broken scapula, a lot went wrong in my first year so I’m happy to just wipe that one out but you learn from it.
“You learn what you need to do off-field and it gave me an opportunity to focus on study and work.”
Graduating from university at the end of 2022 and focussing solely on work are some of the key reasons why Arnold believes his game has gone to another level in 2023.
“Having that balance between work and footy is better this year than in previous seasons,” he said.
“Juggling work, study and footy was tough, whereas now I get that bit of time now where I can chill out and recovery.
“In terms of footy it has been really good because I can be at the club more often.”
Arnold and the Lions are undefeated through seven games this season, with their most recent outing a 68-point win over Essendon.
The Bombers were only able to kick six goals on a wet afternoon at Brighton Homes Arena, something Arnold suggests is born from a group mindset.
“It is not just me versus my opponent, it’s a whole defensive group and it seems to be working.
“That is probably our greatest strength is that we play as a team.”
It is a mindset that has been fostered by newly appointed VFL Head Coach Ben Hudson.
“Huddo is someone whose come in and has got that real character about him.
“I love the way he communicates, a lot like that cool teacher, he has been really good and you enjoy playing footy when you’ve got that environment around you.”
This team first mentality, based on results, has been successful though the first part of the year.