After 138 games in eight years at Fremantle, I knew the writing was on the wall when the 2016 season came to a close.
I managed four appearances for the Dockers for the year — including the last game against the eventual premiers — and knew my time was just about up.
Nonetheless, I continued to play good football for Peel Thunder and we were able to achieve a premiership, which was a great experience.
Post that, I was unsure about my future at Fremantle — I had mentally prepared for not being there in 2017 and surely enough I met with Ross and he thanked me for my services while wishing me the best for the future.
We left on really good terms, I think it was best for me to move on as well and start looking to the next chapter of my life. I learned a lot from Ross and the Fremantle Dockers, so I’m very grateful of my time there.
After another big year, it was time to freshen up so I went on a holiday and trusted my manager to secure me a new home. I went on a few holidays — I went to Japan with a few of my teammates and to Vietnam with my partner as well but continued to train hard in the event of getting picked up.
In the meantime, I had a meeting with a few respective employers and had my resume ready to go in case something didn’t eventuate and had also met with a couple of WAFL clubs.
I think I had a little bit of interest from some AFL clubs but it was during my holiday in Vietnam where my manager contacted me via WhatsApp and mentioned there’s interest from the Giants.
They seemed the best fit and the club that was most keen for my services. They might have taken me through the rookie draft but nonetheless I would’ve been happy to be a Giant in 2017.
Nothing was definitive but when I returned home from Vietnam I was on the next flight out to Sydney on the Tuesday before the draft to meet with Leon Cameron and undergo a medical.
Leon expressed there were no guarantees because anything could happen but said there was a chance they could take me in upcoming draft.
An incredible opportunity and to do it alongside my brother @mattdeboer9 has made my Monday! https://t.co/2jCQCfuZrK
— Tendai Mzungu (@tmzungu25) November 28, 2016
When the Friday rolled around, I didn’t feel the need to tune into the draft. I had previously watched it as an 18-year-old and ended up sitting through the disappointment of not being selected — I was eventually selected via the rookie draft — so I thought it might’ve been bad luck to watch it again.
But when my phone started going off I knew something must’ve happened and I’m absolutely pumped, excited, stimulated and motivated by the opportunity.
I feel like an 18-year-old draftee but I have eight years of experience. I’ve played in a formidable Fremantle side for a while and played a bit of finals footy, so if I can bring any experience with game plan knowledge and some good habits, I feel I can contribute.
The plan would be to complement the work they’re already doing. I have an appetite for hard work and I’m looking forward to getting in there an immersing myself in the game plan, meeting the boys, working with Leon and the midfield coach Lenny Hayes.
At the moment, I’m packing up everything while still training every day and I’ll be looking to get over there on Friday and hitting the ground running on Monday.
I played finals with Peel right up until the Giants played their last finals match, so we finished at the same time and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the time trial on Monday.
And it’s even better I get move over there with a former Fremantle brother in Tendai Mzungu.
Last week, around the same time I was having a few conversations with the Giants, I knew Tendai was on their radar. He went and had a meeting with the club on the day of last week’s national draft.
I’m super excited for him because he gets the opportunity he deserves.
We will probably room together in the interim before Christmas. We have been training partners for a while now but I think post-Christmas our partners will probably want us to find our own Sydney homes but I dare say we’ll be on the same street or the same suburbs at the very least.
We’re obviously both prepared for the challenge but it does help having someone there with you that you’ve been in the trenches with for a while now. We’re big boys though and I’m looking forward to meeting 40 new teammates and brothers.