It was mid-September when I made up my mind that I wouldn’t remain at Collingwood. I had a few chats to Bucks and he and the club were amazing throughout the entire process. They respected whatever decision I made and Bucks said that I had earned that right.
I went away on a belated honeymoon with my wife and we had some alone time to think things through in a bit more detail. By the time we got back and I’d made contact with a few people I became confident in my decision to find another club and start a new journey.
Collingwood originally made me an offer at the end of the season, but between my manager and myself we agreed to chill out and take some time to weigh up a few different things.
By the time we got to the end of September we had some more serious chats with Collingwood, and let them know that the best thing for my family and myself was to look elsewhere. Thankfully the Saints popped up and it felt like a really good fit.
Obviously, you weigh up a few things with a move like this. For me, it was something that I started thinking about in the middle of the year, and then again towards the end of the season. It can be quite a long process and it feels like it extends if you don’t play finals because you’re waiting for a few other things to play out. You’re making a big life decision which can make things quite stressful.
While it was stressful, being a free agent potentially makes me one of the lucky ones this off-season because I was able to secure my future fairly quickly without any hiccups.
I’m close friends with a few other Collingwood boys who are potentially leaving the club and have asked for trades. My position allowed me to have the freedom to explore the options that were out there and make decisions without the stress of ‘what ifs’, and thinking about whether clubs are willing to trade you in the first place or are waiting for draft picks.
When clubs are negotiating a trade, they are looking for the best outcome possible. They just butt heads and in the end, the players are the ones stuck in the middle.
Every club is so different and they have altering views about where they’re at with the premiership clock, so having a bit more freedom to move can only help a player.
If for some reason a player slips out of the structure of a club, it helps them to be able to seek other avenues as a means to prolong a career.
When players get to a certain age — particularly in your late 20s — you look for opportunities to adapt and re-invent yourself so that you can play well into your 30s.
I feel like Clokey is in the same position and is after that next opportunity to find some more energy to keep you going to that you can keep up with the young players that come into the league. All of those thoughts entered my mind when deliberating over my future.
It was fairly well documented that North Melbourne were interested in me. We had a few chats as the process went on, but given the position they were in it wasn’t the best fit for me personally.
“It’s no secret that I prefer a more one-on-one style of game, so I’d like to now develop my offensive game”
Those discussions went cold, so the process moved to a few other clubs, and then eventually St Kilda came along. They got in contact with my manager, so the interest was definitely mutual.
Alan Richardson then gave me a phone call and that was a really open and honest discussion which definitely made me feel at ease.
He spoke about the club and the journey they’re on, which made me leave the call feeling really excited, even though a decision wasn’t worked out either way at that time.
Richo and I also spoke about me adding a few new strings to my bow that can really assist the Saints in the future. It’s no secret that I prefer a more one-on-one style of game, so I’d like to now develop my offensive game and my ability to come off my man and help others.
He believes he can get that growth out of me which is very exciting as a player, and helped me greatly when making the final decision to select the Saints.
Having played for 10 years, I come into St Kilda not knowing anything which requires me to learn and adapt. It excites me that I have to work to gain my spot and the respect of the playing group.
While some people have asked me about it already, I haven’t really thought too much about the 2010 factor and that moment in time.
Plenty of the guys I played with back then at Collingwood have moved on, and it’s the same at the Saints. Things have changed dramatically.
I’ve been a St Kilda for just three or four days but I already feel so strongly about doing whatever I can to help them to hopefully win a premiership, so you feel you’re a part of a new experience right now, rather than reflecting on the older memories.
I won’t feel any awkwardness, that’s for sure.