Players’ Voice — Sam Collins

Players’ Voice — Sam Collins

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To be quite honest, the last year was difficult.

I think what a lot of people don’t understand is that due to factors outside of your control you might not be able to play the football you want to play.

The hardest thing for me was staying in a positive mindset and helping my teammates play good football for Peel Thunder while I kept failing to be selected for Fremantle.

While it was frustrating and I would have liked to play more AFL games, I did like my time at Peel — my teammates were fantastic and the coaches were great.

I continued to develop at WAFL level and I focused on going down with a good attitude and buying into what they were trying to achieve. Playing three years at Box Hill, I knew there was nothing worse than a player playing at that level who didn’t want to be there.

I feel privileged to be part of back-to-back premierships at Peel in 2016 and 2017.

I honestly can’t thank that club enough for what they did for me. They made me feel a part of it and that was why I was able to have a good season, despite not playing much senior football.

Since my time came to an end at Fremantle, the last few months have been a whirlwind.

PLAYERS’ VOICE — CAM O’SHEA

Firstly, I’d like to thank Ross Lyon and Chris Bond for the opportunity. They were quite honest in my exit meeting, and let me know that the club’s key defensive depth was a contributing factor, and also, that I was lacking a little in speed and agility.

That was tough to hear, because I entered 2017 a little heavier in order to play on the bigger forwards. That was a deliberate move that the club initiated. To then turn around and say that I wasn’t as agile was difficult to comprehend.

I got de-listed in the middle of October and then packed up and headed back home.

It wasn’t until a few weeks after that the opportunity to train with St Kilda came up. In that limbo period, I got stuck into my Freo off-season training plan because my sole goal over that period was to get back on an AFL list.

I moved back in with mum and dad and knuckled down on my training. I was fortunate to get two weeks training with St Kilda which came at a good time, because it’s hard to continue to motivate yourself when you’re on your own and there’s no guarantees.

The chance to train at the Saints felt like the last opportunity to impress someone, so with that in mind, I completely gave it my all and attacked it.

Sure, it was only two weeks and perhaps some people would think there isn’t much to gain, but that wasn’t my attitude. I went in with an open mind, and yes, there were no guarantees, but it’s much better to train with a bunch of blokes than by myself.

The people at St Kilda were welcoming and I showed them what I had to offer. Ultimately, it didn’t work out for me but it was a great experience and I’d do it all again.

Heading into the national and pre-season drafts, I wasn’t feeling negative or positive about my future.

It’s a weird feeling because you’ve had six weeks of not knowing anything, and then you speak to a few clubs and you’re aware of some interest, but you have no idea whether it’ll be in the national or rookie draft, or whether anything is going to happen at all.

I watched the national draft and wasn’t taken, but I got a lot of joy out of seeing Sam Switkowski — who’s an old Box Hill boy — get selected. It’s just as well I was watching because I was probably the first person to send him a message!

Seeing my former captain at Box Hill, Dave Mirra, get picked up a week later was also thrilling. His is the ultimate story of persistence, and that definitely gives you hope that the ultimate dream is reachable.

Once the rookie draft came around, I started to get more nervous because it feels like the last chance. I sat in front of the computer and had hopes that something might happen, but it wasn’t to be.

The feeling after the rookie draft was almost relief. Yes, I was disappointed, but at the same time, it had been a long time of not knowing and that was the hardest part.

Not being able to organise a job because you’re in limbo and have no idea if you’ll be able to actually work is quite tough. Now I can move on and I can work out what I want to do with my life.

I was fortunate enough to get drafted at 21 after three years at Box Hill and I finished my degree two months before being selected.

I did a commerce degree at Melbourne University, so I’m a huge advocate for lifting the draft age. Unlike a lot of guys who come out and don’t have a degree behind them, I was able to start to look at what I wanted to do and that was in finance.

I’ve had a couple of interviews and aim to land a full-time job. As for my next footballing adventure, I’m going to sign with Werribee, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.

To sign with them may seem like an interesting move because they’re not aligned with an AFL club anymore, but I did a lot of research into it, and everyone I spoke to had enormous praise for John Lamont.

He’s a great coach and a tremendous developer. I couldn’t fault the coach, and was intrigued by the unique position they’re going into this year coming into their first year as a standalone club.

They’re building and trying to create their own culture. I hope I can be a big part of developing the younger guys who were in a similar position to me before I was drafted.

What do you think?

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