50 AFL games have come and gone so quickly, I feel like I got drafted yesterday.
I still pinch myself when I run out in front of thousands of people each week. Those little moments in the game continue to excite me to this day.
The year didn’t start out the way I wanted it to.
For starters I had a few injuries in the pre-season which limited my preparation and then I broke my hand in a situation that was covered extensively before Round 1.
It was a disappointing way to start the season that’s for sure but I took away a lot of things I never knew about my public image and how much I actually have to lose.
When you have something important to you taken away so abruptly, it makes you appreciate it all the more.
Being on the sidelines reaffirmed how much I love playing footy each week and made me realise how I really do have the best job in the world. I’m greedy to perform again.
I mentioned previously that I needed to earn the trust of the club back and I think I’ve done that. It’s about putting your head down, training hard and playing good footy.
As long as you’re supporting your teammates on and off the field, that’s all they really want. It was never going to happen overnight but I’m pretty happy everyone has moved on now.
While the year didn’t start well, it’s gotten better as it’s progressed.
I’ve played some good footy in recent weeks which could be boiled down to natural progression, being a bit fresher at this time of year and continually putting in the hard yards.
The later start to the year due to an interrupted pre-season had a silver-lining and I think I’m benefitting from it now. I feel fresh whereas a lot of other guys are starting to tire.
I’ve been lucky with injuries since coming back and my body feels good. Preparation is a thing that’s constantly evolving as I try and find the best routine that works for myself — I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning in that regard because no one person’s routine will be the best fit for you.
Obviously if I had a bit more of a pre-season to get fitter, that would’ve been ideal and I have plenty of areas to improve on as the year continues.
One area of focus for me has been the defensive side of my game.
The game nowadays requires you to work both ways and I find it a lot easier to get the ball than to do the little things that coaches and teammates notice the most.
If you get the defensive aspects right, the offensive side of your game tends to take care of itself.
There’s a lot of role models around the club and the senior guys are easy to look up to. Our skipper Scott Pendlebury is a bloke who does everything right and the whole leadership group have played an important role. I wouldn’t be the player I am or become the one I want to be without them.
I’m in my third year now and have a fair idea what the AFL is about but to be an elite footballer you need to be consistent in every aspect — performance, training and preparation.
For me to take the next step, consistency is a priority.
That’s where the best separate themselves from the pack — becoming a player who performs each week and doesn’t play one or two good games a month.
I feel I’m a lot more balanced than previously. I’m undertaking carpentry at the Trade Institute of Victoria, which has helped my work-life balance — I was never going to be one to sit in an office all day.
It’s been a hell of a ride so far and one my family and friends have enjoyed, too. A 50-game milestone is one they’ll be celebrating a lot more than myself.
Everything I do is to make them proud and the hopefully there’s a lot more to come in the future.