ZAC Robins has played football in the Mallee from the day he could kick a ball.
The Hopetoun born and bred defender started his footballing career with the Hopetoun Football and Netball Club – and he hasn’t looked back.
Robins is among many loyal footballers playing for the Southern Mallee Giants, opting to stick with the club after Hopetoun and Beulah merged in 2015.
He said it was a smooth transition for those involved at both founding clubs.
“(The Hopetoun players) knew all the Beulah boys. It took a bit for us to gel, but it’s been pretty good,” he said.
It has been a success story for the Giants, who remain undefeated since joining the Horsham District league in 2016.
This Saturday, the Giants will take on Harrow-Balmoral in the Horsham District league grand final.
The two teams met in last season’s decider, with the Giants taking the premiership cup north.
Robins left the region for a short period to study teaching at Ballarat’s Federation University. He travelled back every weekend to play for his hometown club.
Now he is a teacher at the Hopetoun P-12 College.
Robins missed the first half of the 2016 season due to a hip injury.
“I’ve played most games this year,” he said. “Our back-line hasn’t had many changes this year… It’s pretty much the same six. We have a good connection back there.”
Robins said the Giants had a good number of young adults among the senior football squad and he enjoyed playing alongside so many Mallee footballers.
“There are a lot of young people around Hopetoun and Beulah at the moment. It’s obviously good for the senior footy,” he said. “We are trying to create a culture of staying loyal to the club.”
Robins played in the 2016 premiership – his first senior success.
“I played in a few junior premierships but that was my first and only senior premiership,” he said.
“The goal after last year’s win was to get to the grand final – and now that we are there, the goal is to win it. It’s always a target to get to the pointy end.
“But, personally, my goal for the next couple of years is to try to keep the list together. A lot (of players) are local but a lot of them are travelling.
“I hope we can hold onto them.”
Robins is expecting a tough game against the Southern Roos this weekend and described his opponents as a “good defensive side”.
“We will have to work hard,” he said.
Robins said coach Shaun Monohan had a lot of trust in the back-line to make their own decisions.
“Shaun has a bit of faith in us to match up ourselves. He does give us set match-ups, but it doesn’t always stay that way. It gets mixed around a bit,” he said.
Robins’ family farm’s at Hopetoun and he said he tried to help out as often as possible.
Among Saturday’s team is Kain Robins – a distant cousin, but not immediate family.
“We’re both from Hopetoun but from different families,” he said.
“We have a few good forwards to play against at training… I can see how people find it hard to play on him.”
The Giants also feature among the fixtures for the reserves football and C Reserve netball grand finals. “I wish all the teams luck,” he said.