In an ideal world, you’d always stay loyal to your footy club.
They’re the ones who give you the opportunity to fulfil your dream but unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.
In late 2016, my father passed away. He was my best mate so things very quickly became difficult for my family and myself.
Things were going on outside of football that I was struggling with. I tried to concentrate the best I could on delivering my best efforts for Port Adelaide on the field and I actually thought my 2017 season began okay.
But towards the back-end of the year, I’d grown tired and felt mentally drained. Everything outside of the club took its toll and I wanted to be closer to my loved ones back in Victoria.
My younger sister, who still lives in our home town of Shepparton, was struggling as well and I knew if I could be closer to her I’d be able to help her through that a lot more.
I made many close friends in Adelaide so it was difficult to leave, it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I’d spent four years of my life there and didn’t want to disappoint anyone but the decision was completely for family.
At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for yourself and your family despite the difficulty of the decision. I made that commitment.
Once the season had finished, I made the final decision to come home and Hawthorn were interested.
I clicked straight away with Alastair Clarkson during our first meeting and Hawthorn’s history and recent success was always a drawcard.
I knew their culture would be right up there and I grew up idolising the likes of Buddy Franklin, when he was still wearing the brown and gold, and Cyril Rioli so a chance to represent their club was important to me.
There was an immediate sense of relief when the trade went through.
I knew there’d be speculation about why I made the move and that’s what led me to putting out an Instagram post last year. I wanted to get something out there. Playing AFL is a tough and it’s hard to get the wider population to understand your circumstances sometimes.
It was on my mind that the perception might’ve been that I left for money or a longer contract and I knew that would’ve irritated and stressed me out so the Instagram post was about explaining the situation a bit more and what went through my head while making the decision.
Cam Matthews, the player development manager at the Hawks, was a massive help getting everything sorted to make the transition as smooth as possible and Shauny Burgoyne, being that older and wiser head, wrapped me up under his wing. I have a lot to repay him for that.
My downtime has changed a lot in 2018. I have a few hobbies like bike riding and I have an interest in cars. I go for a coffee with a few close mates and I’m only a few hours away if I ever feel like traveling to Shepparton for the day and watching my sister play netball or hanging out there for the weekend.
There’s plenty to do and I feel a lot more comfortable in that sense because I get to see my sister and my grandma a lot more now.
I’m currently living with a family friend about 15 minutes from the club, which makes it easy to get to and from so it’s been a very smooth transition.
But I’d like to find a place of my own and I think I’ll probably move in with my sister, who’s looking to make the move to the big city.
I’m really enjoying my life at the moment and, despite the loss on Sunday, I think it’s easy to see that in the way I express myself on the weekend.
The last two weeks have been the two biggest crowds I’ve played in front of, which has been an unbelievable experience. I couldn’t be happier running out in the Hawthorn jumper each week.
It’s been a gradual change but I think I’ve managed to turn my life the right way around again.