I could tell they were genuine about it.
I sat down with Carlton 12 months ago when I was about to sign with the Northern Blues and had a chat about the future.
They told me that if I had a strong season there would be an opportunity for me to put in a pre-season with the club and potentially go from there. Fortunately, everything has gone to plan.
It’s funny how it all pans out.
After being delisted by Port Adelaide at the end of 2016, after six seasons and 81 games, I had a choice to make.
Initially, I was angry, as most people would be. When I sat down with Port in my exit meeting, they told me they would try to explore trade options but there wasn’t too much interest from other clubs.
I had just returned from America and received a phone call from Ken Hinkley and he told me that my time was up.
It was difficult sending that final email to the boys who I’d been through so much with, informing them that I was departing. I was emotional.
Was I going to throw in the towel and play country footy, or was I going to go round again?
Once I made up my mind that I wanted to have another shot, the Northern Blues opportunity jumped out at me, and as they say, the rest is history.
Having a year off from the AFL system and playing VFL and working has put many things into perspective. If anything, it has motivated me more to get things in order away from football.
While I was playing VFL and training three nights a week, I was working at Nike in the head office at Abbotsford in logistics and in the store.
Previously, I had undertaken a few courses but was never sold on what I wanted to do.
I can guarantee I’ll be sitting down with the Carlton development guys this year and will go through all of that. Hopefully that flows on to my footy, too.
The question everyone likes to ask is, ‘where were you when your name was called?’ To be honest, the story isn’t as exciting as some of the others you’ll hear during this period.
I was at home waiting around for it to start. I did some running to pre-occupy myself, and then I turned the computer on and followed the draft from there. I only found out I was going in the pre-season draft the day of. There was talk that I’d possibly go in the rookie draft, so the way it panned out was a bit of a shock.
My mum was one of the first people to call me, and then Bolts officially welcomed me into the club.
Amid all of the congratulatory calls and messages, one really stood out to me. To my surprise, I received a text from Ken Hinkley wishing me well, which was incredibly generous of him.
It’s been an interesting transition training with the Blues already before being drafted. From a game-plan perspective, there’s still so much for me to learn and I will use the next few months to do so, but I also feel really comfortable in my new surroundings.
The club faced an unfortunate setback with the loss of Sam Docherty for the season, but we must adopt the next-man-up mentality.
There’s no question he will be a massive loss for us because he is so integral to the footy club, both from a leadership standpoint and from a playing perspective. To his credit, he has already been back at the club helping the younger players which is a sign of his character.
Right now, I see myself as a third tall defender who can provide run off half-back and can intercept. That’s been my primary focus during the pre-season, but who knows, I may get called upon to fulfil another role.
If there’s a message in all of this, I guess it’s that you can turn immense disappointment into a positive.
There’s no guarantees that things will work out with the Blues, but I’ll be putting my best foot forward.