On the Sunday before Wednesday’s trade period concluded, Jack Hombsch’s future was uncertain.
He still had one year to run on his Port Adelaide contract, so there was a fallback option, but following 37 senior games in three years and the blessing from the club to explore his options, the lack of interest in his services was a tad unsettling.
Without a clear answer and little to no options, Hombsch had prepared to head back to the Power for the 2019 season. That was until his phone rang.
Gold Coast got in contact with his manager, Matt Bain and said there was a chance, and in the blink of an eye, he was on a plane to Queensland on the Monday.
The 25-year-old’s dash to Adelaide airport wasn’t kept secret for too long, with a local journalist snapping a shot of him as he tried to sneak his way to the Gold Coast.
As news flooded through of his flight, another journalist denied rumours that Hombsch was meeting with the Suns, merely suggesting he was catching up with former teammate, Aaron Young, which was partly true.
“There were a few guys at the gate, and I got a little bit rattled,” Hombsch told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“Someone asked what I was doing and I said, ‘I’m just going up to the Gold Coast for a holiday.’ I didn’t know what was allowed to be said to the media so that is where that confusion came from.
“I did stay with Youngy so there was some truth to it!”
From there, he met with Suns officials including Stuart Dew and Dean Solomon and toured the facility before having a medical with the club, followed by lunch with another friend, Callum Ah Chee.
Over the course of the 24-hour whirlwind, there were no guarantees about a trade going through, but the Suns did sell him on the vision.
“They seem excited to build a great culture,” Hombsch explained.
“They brought George Horlin-Smith and Anthony Miles in who have been around that setting at other clubs and they want us all to set up an environment and bring experience.”
He had until Tuesday afternoon to decide, and after informing his manager that he was keen on the move, the nervous wait on the final day of the trade period ensued.
There were no guarantees that it would get done.
At home on the couch watching some NBA with Jimmy Toumpas by his side keeping him company, Hombsch practically sat by the phone waiting.
“You have to be by your phone because anything can happen at any minute.”
Not only was he waiting for it to ring, he was scrolling through his Twitter feed to see if news was breaking. When Steven May’s trade to the Demons was made official, it paved the way for the Suns to move on Hombsch.
Finally at around 3pm, a deal between the Power and the Suns had been struck.
Despite being informed to explore his possibilities, Hombsch says there’s no ill feelings toward Ken Hinkley or the club, and genuinely admits that he was more than happy to go back to Alberton if a deal wasn’t negotiated, despite being mildly frustrated at his lack of opportunities over the last couple of seasons.
“Almost every player goes through that at some stage of their career. You can’t drop your bundle, sulk, and give up. That is just the way it goes sometimes,” he said.
He leaves excited at the next chance afforded to him and the security of a three-year deal, but also with some sadness.
“Cleaning your locker out is probably the saddest part,” he explained.
“It was my home for six years and then you have to clean everything within a couple of days. They’re pretty quick with taking away your access code and your club email! It gets shut down swiftly so you need to be fast.”
Hombsch joins fellow Suns recruit Anthony Miles in unique company, with the two becoming the first players to represent both GWS and the Suns.
Not only that, he has played at the most AFL venues out of any player, with 20 to his name that include Jiangwan Stadium, Bellerive Oval and Traeger Park.
“I have had a few obscure stats in my time with that and the stadium one. It’s better than nothing, isn’t it?’”
And as the dust settles following a third change of states in his seven-year career, the former Rostrevor College product is optimistic.
“I’ve gone from being a middle-aged player at Port to being one of the older guys at the Suns. It’ll be a different experience and one that I’m looking forward to.
“To be part of a great turnaround.”