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Otto's incredible opportunity

Max Phillips  September 28, 2017 10:23 PM

Andy Otten on playing in the AFL GF Andy Otten talks about playing in his first AFL Grand Final.

If there’s one player who won’t take Saturday’s Grand Final opportunity for granted, it’s Andy Otten.

Otten has endured more than his fair share of hardships on the way to this week’s decider.

The 2009 Rising Star runner-up bounced back from two knee reconstructions, one in each knee, which threatened to derail his career.

Otten returned from his second reconstruction but was unable to force himself into Adelaide’s settled senior side through all of last season.

He remained patient and focused, and eventually earned a long-awaited return to AFL action in the opening round of Adelaide’s 2017 campaign.

The versatile tall has spent his whole career playing on the edge, and acknowledges he was most likely the man to miss out if young forward Mitch McGovern overcame a hamstring complaint.

But that’s only made him more determined to make the most of every opportunity come Saturday afternoon.

“It’s so tough because one door closes for someone and one opens for someone else. I’m actually on the receiving end (of the opportunity) for once, I guess,” Otten said.

“I’ve come in because of an injury to a great player in ‘Gov’. I just want to play my role. I know I don’t have to do anything special, just do my bit for the side.”

Crows name Grand Final side

McGovern will watch Saturday’s decider from the sidelines alongside rebounding backman Brodie Smith, who ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee in the Club’s Qualifying Final win over Greater Western Sydney.

“It’s heartbreaking to watch these guys miss out, but then the opportunity comes for someone else and you’ve got to take it,” Otten said.

“The guys will bounce back for sure. Brodie’s been amazing so far. He’s been around the group, up and about and helping everyone out.

“The way he’s gone about it is just so good for the side and gives us a real lift.

“The 22 players that play on Saturday are going to give their all and I’m sure whoever runs out will do the Club proud.”

It won’t be the first time Otten will run out onto the MCG for a Grand Final.

Otten teamed up with fellow Crow David Mackay for the Oakleigh Chargers in the 2006 TAC Cup Grand Final against the Calder Cannons.

The pair played alongside a host of other current AFL talent including North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein, Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray and Sydney defender Nick Smith.

“It was a really special day,” Otten said.

“D-Mac came up to me (after the Preliminary Final win over Geelong) and gave me a hug and said ‘we’re going back, we’re going to do it again!’”

Mackay, who starred for the Chargers that day, said the experience left him wanting more.

“I think it was the last time the TAC Cup Grand Final was the curtain-raiser to the (AFL) Grand Final,” Mackay said.

“One of my best footy memories was walking onto the ground, it must’ve been about eight o’clock in the morning or something, looking up and thinking ‘imagine this place when it’s full’”

The Chargers claimed their maiden TAC Cup premiership that year after fighting back from a half-time deficit to win by 27 points.

But celebrations had to be cut short immediately after the siren.

“The siren went and we were going nuts trying to do a lap of honour, but they were trying to kick us off! Otten laughed.

“I’m pretty sure we got escorted off by a security guard.”

The story is sure to be a little different this time around if Otten and Mackay have their way.