Towards the end of the 2016 AFL season, the opportunities in the Giants side became pretty tough — there’s honestly 22 superstars running out each week for them, which we always knew would eventuate with so many first-round draft picks and some more than handy mature recruits.
Apart from playing in the Preliminary Final when Stevie Johnson was suspended, I became starved of opportunities, so it’d be silly of my manager not to see if there are other openings elsewhere.
I had another year on my contract left, so I fully expected to playing for GWS is 2017 when the trade period got underway and I was still enjoying my footy. I had just come off a premiership win in the NEAFL alongside the likes of Jack Steele, James Stewart and Will Hoskin-Elliott who are all huge talents in their own right.
I also loved Sydney — I spent five years at the Giants and have made some incredible friendships in that time.
So I went on my overseas trip to Bali fully expecting to be back in the orange and charcoal by mid-November.
Carlton initially showed a bit of interest early on in the trade period but I was pretty keen on staying at the Giants at that point.
It wasn’t until the Deledio trade came through in the last two hours of the trade window that I seriously considered making a move elsewhere.
That’s when things got crazy.
It’s a bit silly when you think about it, if you’re trying to make a decision on your career you should probably be in the country at least.
I made the decision while surfing off the coast of Indonesia with a couple of really close mates after some conversations with my with my family and my manager. It was quite tough because the Wi-Fi wasn’t too good over there so getting in contact was a bit difficult.
Through those conversations with my old man and my manager I decided to seek that opportunity at the Blues. I was still in Bali when I made the decision and I had a lot of phone calls from mates, family, the Giants and the Carlton Football Club.
It was a surreal feeling when the trade went through. I’ve been with the Giants for five years so it was definitely my home and I have so many mates there. I love Sydney too, so to be overseas and deciding to relocate and move clubs was a weird feeling.
But I’m not one to shy away from meeting new people and starting fresh, so it’s exciting as well.
Upon reflection, it’s easy to see how brutal the industry is. As soon as we get a bit of time off and all we want to do is mentally escape the trade period gets underway — maybe in the future it could get cut to three or four days immediately post the season so we have time to head away afterwards and not worry about our futures.
There were a few factors that played on my mind when making the decision to join the Blues.
Firstly, I had one year left on my contract and if I had another year like the last one with the young talent that continues to flourish at the Giants, I would be a 28-year-old who has been in and out of a side for two years — which is not an overly secure position.
Carlton was also an appealing place to go. Brendon Bolton has put the club on a path that looks similar to the Giants of three or four years ago. They have a mature group of players such as Kade Simpson, Bryce Gibbs and Mark Murphy, plus all the new talent coming through. I feel they’re on the right path and won’t be far off the mark in a few years’ time.
And what better way to play at the home of football than with one of Victoria’s biggest clubs.