Born-again Christensen embracing weight of expectation
ALLEN Christensen is a Geelong boy, born and bred. He played 65 games with the Cats, including their grand final triumph in 2011.
But while his former side is back as premiership favourite, sitting second on the ladder at 7-1, and in complete contrast to his current team, the Brisbane Lions (1-7), he has no regrets about moving north 18 months ago with partner Elle.
"I'm really enjoying the lifestyle," Christensen tells Australian Regional Media. "Bought a house up here, really settled in.
"I love the blokes I play with ... the coaching staff, support staff.
"I don't miss Geelong. There's always going to be that little pull back. I've got a lot of family there, a lot of my friends there.
"But, I'm more than happy to be here, and, to be honest, I don't think we'll ever go back.
"We love Brisbane, and love Queensland in general."
But, the skilful onballer, who turned 25 during the week, has a birthday wish for more wins in a Lions jumper. After playing in 49 as a Cat, there's been just five in 30 appearances over the past two seasons, the worst loss coming against Collingwood last week.
The Lions head to the MCG to play the Demons (4-4) tomorrow, and all eyes will be on how they respond to the humiliating 12-goal defeat at home.
Coach Justin Leppitsch has rung the changes, with forgotten former Magpie tall Jackson Paine and another ex-Cat in Trent West to come back, and rookie Rhys Mathieson assured of a debut.
With a revolving door at the selection table due to form and injury - Dayne Beams (knee) and Darcy Gardiner (finger) are two more sidelined, with Josh Walker and Josh Green among those dropped - Christensen says it's been hard to build chemistry on the park.
"We've just got to get used to being out there together, especially blokes from other clubs," he said.
"We've learnt to play with other players for so long.
"Sometimes when you think a player might do this, they do another thing. Little things like that can add up in games and make a big difference."
Christensen has been solid so far this season, with outstanding games against West Coast (19 disposals, three goals) and Sydney (20 touches, three goals).
But he hasn't been too solid, physically speaking. In fact, he has slimmed down after copping criticism for being overweight last year, especially from outspoken former Lion Jason Akermanis.
"It was a little kick up the bum," he said, though that bum isn't as big a target now.
"It didn't really faze me that much. I'd like to see people have two back surgeries (as he did before arriving in Brisbane) and not run for six months and see what it's like.
"It was a tough time. I was also going through the trade and all that. It was really stressful.
"I got there eventually and started playing some decent footy by the end of the year."
Unlike the previous year, Christensen completed the entire pre-season up until the NAB Challenge when he had a cyst on a finger removed.
"Other than that I didn't really miss a session, did all the running and I think it's paying off," he said.