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Hawthorn’s Luke Breust raises a glass to another campaign

Befitting a bachelor of commerce student, Luke Breust has done the numbers.

Seventy shots at his customary 75 per cent accuracy would net a half century of goals for a third season in a row. Six to eight centre bounces a game would amount to about 150 centre square involvements for the year, an education that will continue his growth into a small forward with a big bag of tricks.

Meanwhile, back home in the NSW Riverina, if he and his business partner mates can refashion the 1933 built Hotel Temora to the locals’ liking and complement steady traffic with half a dozen bumper, New Year’s Eve like nights dotted across the calendar, he’ll be on a winner there, too.

Breust chuckles at the stereotype of footballers and pubs, a career path of the retired and tired who bend their elbow on either side of the bar, reliving glory days while gently slipping into a post football spiral. Like the triple premiership team he plays for, he has designs on defying the norm.

“We’re all so young, and we just felt that if we could use that and give the pub a similar feel it’d get people through the door,” Breust says of a venue that competes with five other pubs in his home town.

Its recent niche has been as the place to be after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, when locals roll up just before lock out time and the place bursts to life for a couple of hours until closing. “But that’s literally been the only time you’d be seen in the joint. Hopefully we can get the pub back up to speed and get people through the door before quarter to midnight.”

Breust is looking forward to adding “businessman” to “student”, “surfer” and “occasional golfer” as cherished outlets from his highly scrutinised, demanding and generally rather strange main job of AFL footballer. As with his mates in brown and gold, he’s happy with the balance and spread of skills in the Hotel Temora team.

“There’s eight of us, five my age and a couple of older guys,” he says of a group of partners scattered from Perth to Melbourne, Geelong to Wagga Wagga, with three on the ground in Temora. The Wagga partner has a hospitality background in cafes and function centres; each has brought something to the table.

Breust was hands on in setting up the company, establishing trust funds and crunching numbers as the group calculated, negotiated and eventually took the pub plunge. His phone is full of photos of the renovation that’s underway, his head full of visions of the beer garden bar that will be fashioned out of an old shipping container out the back.

And of course, his day job also gives the place invaluable profile. With the country rumour mill buzzing, the local paper rang him a couple of weeks ago, before all the ‘i’s had been dotted and ‘t’s crossed. He declined to comment, but the story ran anyway under the headline, “Hotel Temora in the hands of home town Hawk”. He figures now that any publicity is good publicity. “It’ll get people talking.”

Importantly, he isn’t a blow in looking to cash in. Breust’s family still run the sheep farm 20 minutes out of Temora where he grew up, honing his kicking accuracy by threading drop punts down a narrow alley between silos. A highlight of his off season was a reception in the chambers of mayor Rick Firman, an old family friend.

He gets home half a dozen times a year, and speaks with the passion and engagement of someone who might still be living there. Breust is a big supporter of the mayor’s push to stave off amalgamation of Temora Shire Council with neighbours including West Wyalong, Bland and Coolamon. “We’ve been profitable for years. Hopefully we’ll continue to stand alone as a council.”

The “if it ain’t broke” mentality could readily be applied to Hawthorn. Breust notes that among his new business partners are lifelong supporters of other clubs who are happy to tell him Ray Ban Outlet Online it’s time to move along and give someone else a go. He’s not ready just yet.

Now 25 and a veteran of three premierships and 116 games, he needs only to look at the current versions of his young, rookie self for motivation. His first day back at training, when the newbies have been at it for a fortnight, is a reignition of where he wants to be.

“The easiest thought for me is that if Hawthorn’s lifting another premiership cup at the end of the year, I don’t want one of those boys on the dais in my spot. If I see them in the running really push themselves, see them really playing well and growing as a player in match simulation, it does put pressure on myself and other guys in the team ‘Geez if I don’t get my act together they can quickly come in and take my spot’.

“It wouldn’t necessarily be over from there, but you’d have to work hard to get it back. I don’t voice it, but it’s certainly in the back of my mind. It drives me every day.”

Not that he doesn’t want the next wave to get better. With Matt Suckling, Brian Lake, David Hale having departed and Jarryd Roughead out injured for at least the first half of the season, there will be at least four changes from the grand final 22. Breust says seeing who grabs the opportunity and runs with it excites him most about the new campaign.

“Similar to me, I had two or three years until I got a chance. They’re no different they’ve been in the system for a couple of years now. It’ll be good to see who takes the opportunity and has a good year and really kicks on.”

Those early days when he landed with the 2008 premiers seem a lifetime ago. Rejected by Sydney and thought too slight to Ray Ban Outlet make it, Breust’s lasting memory is how tiny he was; he weighed in at 70 kilograms, and now plays at 81. “I wasn’t strong enough, I didn’t have a body to play AFL footy at that stage, I knew that. But I was still working my arse off to try and do it.”

He played the NAB Challenge opener in Launceston, where he’d broken his leg in his previous game, for NSW against Tasmania. In 30 minutes of game time against Melbourne, he didn’t register a single possession.

“Doughnuts. Clarko brought it up not long ago. It’s good for the younger guys coming through, now that I’ve done what I’ve done, played some games and had some success. It’s a good story, but at the time you think it’s the worst thing in the world.”

He started the 2009 season proper in the Box Hill reserves. “I thought, ‘Geez I’ve gone from playing NAB Cup to playing twos twos!’ At the time you think you’re so far off it. [But] it’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me.”

Two years later, after a pre season restricted by signs of osteitis pubis, he began in the “twos twos” again. “VFL reserves is early I remember being up at seven to be at the ground by nine for an 11am kick off. That was only 2011, not long ago.”

A month later he made his AFL debut. How quickly things can change has stayed with him. The weekend before, with Hawthorn enjoying a bye, he and Suckling went back to Temora. “Had a couple of beers, then the next week you get called up to play.”

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