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Montagna: You’ve got to embrace it, you can’t fear it

Josh Gabelich  September 7, 2017 11:44 AM

AFL 2009 Toyota Grand Final - St Kilda v Geelong

Leigh Montagna of St Kilda celebrates a goal during the 2009 Toyota AFL Grand Final between the St Kilda Saints and the Geelong Cats at the MCG.

You need to understand the situation; it is different.

While he won’t feature ever again September, retired St Kilda champion Leigh Montagna knows a thing or two about performing in the most important month of all.

The dual All-Australian wingman, who called time on his distinguished career last week after 287 games in red, white and black, played in 14 finals across his 16-year career, including three Grand Finals.

With just under 100,000 people expected to cram into the MCG for Friday night’s qualifying final between Richmond and Geelong, Montagna said you must prepare as if it’s any other game but embrace the reality that it is far more important.

“You’ve got to embrace the occasion; you can’t try and dismiss it,” Montagna said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Tuesday night.

“I think you’ve still got to understand the occasion; you’ve still got to focus on the way you play your footy and do what you’ve done all year. But you need to understand the situation; it is different.

“So as much as you want to keep everything the same – you keep your routine the same, you keep your preparation the same – you need to embrace that it is different now. 97,000 in a final is cut throat.

“You’ve got to embrace it, you can’t fear it, but prepare the same way and play the same way.”

With the dust now settled on his decision to hang up his boots, Montagna admits he is comfortable with his decision to close the chapter on a significant chunk of his life.

“I’m content (with my decision), I’ve had a week to process it, I’m comfortable and I’ve moved on now and I’m starting to play some golf and some basketball,” he said.

“I’m envious of these boys on the weekend (playing finals), but I’m comfortable with how it has all panned out.”