Tiger gives Clancee strength, courage
Tiger gives Clancee strength, courage

Rocky III was all about the eye of the tiger. Clancee II is about the arm of the tiger.

That sleeve tattoo Clancee Pearce wears on his left arm is a Tiger, precisely the look the 21-year-old wanted his de-listing by Fremantle at the end of last season as he contemplated his football mortality.

"It symbolises strength and courage," he said.

"I decided to get it over that period when I was de-listed and there are a few more to come."

A few more tattoos and many more AFL games, it would seem, for Pearce, who has played in all 12 of Fremantle's matches this season and looks set to build significantly on his 38-game tally.

He puts his second football life down to wholesale changes in diet and preparation, and support from incoming coach Ross Lyon who told him the opportunity was there if he was prepared to do the work.

That work, training throughout his end-of-season break and overhauling his diet, took 5kg off his weight (from 91kg to 86kg) and by the end of summer it slashed a remarkable 45 seconds off his 3km time trial personal best from something just over 11 minutes to about 10.20.

"Obviously getting de-listed I matured a lot off the field, probably on the field as well," he said. "Going away and realising what I have to do as an elite sportsman.

"I basically changed everything. I didn't have a break. We trained nearly every day. I did the running, weights, cross-training. It became really a mindset. I came back and I really wanted to be a footballer."

Lyon contacted him early on and made it clear the chance was there if he worked for it. The pair talked regularly over summer and the new coach kept making the point he thought Pearce had a future.

Proving Lyon right and proving others wrong became a focus.

"We had a few chats. He was pretty honest," Pearce said. "Lose some weight and change your body shape. He kept in contact and I called him a few times. He always gave support and he said if you wanted to do the work there was going to be an opportunity for you there.

"It was just probably the fact that nobody previously wanted you. I just decided I would try and prove people wrong and come back in the best shape I can. That is what really motivated me. To prove to myself that I can do it."

Pearce also paid tribute to his partner Jessica Stockden who has become the home equivalent of the food police since Docker dietician Beth Allanson got him to "clean out the cupboards" and start again.

"Less carbohydrates, more salads and vegies helped me trim down a lot," he said.

"It wasn't so much eating bad stuff, it was eating bigger portion sizes. Cutting down the portions was the big one. I have got a structured diet where I don't eat carbohydrates early on in the week and eat carbohydrates the day before the game, water and some Power- ade. I am really strict now with what I eat. I load up on a lot of vegies and salads."

Of Jessica he said: "She has been great. She does most of the cooking each night and she is really good at making steamed vegies and cooking a bit of chicken. If I want to eat something bad she is always the first to pull me back into line."

Tomorrow will mark a significant milestone for Pearce when he runs out onto the MCG against Collingwood in what will probably be the biggest game of his career.

"You could say this is the biggest game," he said.

"I have played in a few derbies but playing Collingwood at the G is obviously a big step.

"I feel like I belong. My team has been fantastic and the boys have been really good. Without them I couldn't do what I do out there for the team."

He said Lyon told him from the outset he thought he could play in the midfield and that Pearce had surprised himself with his running capacity.

"I feel like I run out games a lot better which obviously will come with fitness and I feel that I recover a lot better. After a game last year and the years before I would stay home and feel really sore but the day after a game I feel like I can get out and do things and I think it has just helped in recovery and helps my football all round."

The West Australian

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