WHILE many wondered if Jobe Wheelhouse would defy a foot injury to start for Lambton Jaffas in Saturday’s semi-final, or if he will stay at the club next year, the man himself was chasing tickets on Friday to the Atletico Madrid versus Chelsea Champions League clash.
BACK: Jobe Wheelhouse in action for Lambton Jaffas last Sunday in the 2-1 win over Hamilton at Edden Oval. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Not for himself, but for his academy’sfirst overseas tour group, which heads to Spain on September 22.The 19-strong, 12/13 years squad will train with Real Madrid and Barcelonaacademies, stay at the Royal Spanish Football Federation, tour Bernabeu and Nou Campand play trials.The tour is amajor step for Jobe Wheelhouse Football, the former Jets captain’sbusiness started in 2012.
But while the academy is the focus for Wheelhouse, the 32-year-old is not ready yet to hang up the boots.
“Some weeks I go, ‘Geez, how am I fitting it all in’,” Wheelhouse said.“But I still think I’ve got something to offer, so while ever that’s the case, I’ll continue to play.
“It’s just a balancing thing,trying to fitin the club training, the academy sessions and we’re getting into the schools now as well.”
Wheelhouse, the Jaffas’ 2014 grand final hero,remains a key player as they take a2-1 edge into the second leg of their Northern NSW NPL semi-final against Hamilton at Darling Street Oval (1pm). It could be his last game for the club.
“It’s been spoken about that there’s been a little bit of interest [from other clubs] and there’s beena few things that I guess haven’t been a ‘Jaffas way’ this year at the club,” he said.“At the moment, all that stuff’s been put aside.We’ve got a semi-final and grand final to win.
“I’ve spoken to the club over the past few weeks and I’ll make a decision, on whether I stay or move on,hopefully after a grand final.”
Back from a fractured foot, Wheelhouse started for the first time in more than two months last week. He got through 60 minutes before succumbing to the pain but he trained on Thursday night.
“I won’t miss these types of games for anything so it’s just a matter of getting through it the best I can,” he said.
Hamilton equalised after Wheelhouse left the field last week, before Ben Hay hit a bomb in injury time to give Jaffas the lead. Wheelhouse expected another “arm-wrestle” on Saturday.
“I don’t think they played as direct as everyone thought they would last week,” he said. “They tried to play a little bit in the first half and in the second, chasing the game, they started to play more direct.I imagine they would be more direct this week, but they might surprise us again. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves. If weplay like we know we can for 80 or 90, rather than 50 or 60, we’ll win.”
As for having a cortisone injection in his foot, Wheelhouse said: “That will probably be the conversation with Dr Neil Halpin probably after this game.
“I’m not going to get one this game and have to get two or three in a row. I’ll get through this week, and provided we get the chocolates this week, I’ll weighit up for the GF.”