The West

Ballantyne wants to be more than Freo s hometown hero
Hayden Ballantyne with South Coogee Primary School pupils Riley Brookes, 12, left, Hayden Simich, 11, Kaycee Winmar, 11, Marie Mantiquilla, 12, and Yasmine Nahim, 12.

Hayden Ballantyne might have won the respect and admiration of the AFL community by kicking three goals playing with a fractured jaw against Geelong last weekend, but Fremantle's 26-year-old dynamo has a fresh project in mind - improving his form away from home.

Ballantyne has kicked six of his 12 goals on the road in 2014 but he has been a Patersons Stadium specialist for much of his 94-game career, something he intends to change in the near future.

"I am probably not at my best yet, just a few little things that haven't gone my way," he said of his 2014 form generally. "A few games at Subi I have played well. It is more so over east that I have got to lift a bit more. On the weekend I thought I was back to pressuring and chasing and not letting the opposition have any time and space, which is what we want to do in our forward line."

Ballantyne said he believed playing well away was a matter of sticking to the routines that served you well at your home ground: "trying to stick to the game basic principles that you do at home - sleep and the same eating patterns. But it is more so your body, trying to get your body back to feeling good before the next game."

Ballantyne played against his surgeon's advice against Geelong at the weekend, although he had been told it would have taken a serious hit to do any more damage to his jaw which had a plate and screws inserted midweek to protect a fracture.

Speaking at South Coogee Primary School yesterday morning, he said he was still not eating normally and was "starving".

"It is still a bit sore," he said. "It is more so my teeth than my jaw now but it is getting there. It is nine days since the operation. Hopefully I will get a little bit of a break over the next week."

Ballantyne said a couple of knocks he had to the jaw during the game "didn't tickle".

"But I was expecting that. I was doing a few testers on the way to the game - I would tap myself to see how it was feeling," he said.

"My missus was making me more nervous because she was saying you shouldn't play, you shouldn't play.

"She didn't give me too much confidence going into the game.

"The doc said there was no real damage that could be done - that it was going to take a really hard knock to do any more damage so I was pretty confident with that."

Observers are predicting the sixth-placed Dockers will climb the ladder in the next two months by virtue of their draw opening up for them.

After playing nine teams in the top-10 in a brutal start to the season, they do not play a side currently in the top eight in their next eight matches.

But Ballantyne warned no team could be taken for granted.

"There is no such thing as an easy game. If you are five per cent off you will get rolled," Ballantyne said.

The West Australian

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