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Players’ Voice — Chad Wingard

When I walked off the Adelaide Oval in Round 23, I was expecting to be out there again in Round 1 of 2019 for Port Adelaide.

Leaving the ground, I had a moment with Jared Polec because he was quite aware that it was going to be his last game, but little did I know it was going to be the last game that I played with everyone.

Looking back, it’s pretty upsetting and it shows that a lot can happen in two months.

Exit meetings are always honest and if the team has a rough year, the overriding theme is to improve and identify ways to grow.

My meeting with Ken Hinkley was stock-standard — we had some stuff that he wanted me to work on coming into next year — including a bit of a mindset change and identifying what I wanted out of my footy.

It was an honest conversation, but that was normal to me. We have that relationship where we can be honest and nothing is personal.

I went away from that meeting still thinking I was going to be a Port Adelaide player next season.

Looking back on my 2018 campaign, I view it in two parts. The first part was as a forward, and the second part was playing in the midfield, so we reviewed it as such.

It was a slow start to the season for me, slower than I wanted, but once I got into the midfield, it completely changed my game.

The club knew that I had free agency coming up in 2019, and because they weren’t sure what I was going to do, they probably saw that as a threat. To be completely honest, I didn’t even know what I was going to do!

Following on from the discussions and the exit meetings, they let my manager know that they were open to trading me if a suitable offer came forward.

I was completely taken back and upset with that initially.

It rocked me, but the longer I thought about it, the more I began to understand.

Despite what some people may think, there is no bad blood.

From there, I went away and met with a few clubs, but even during that process, I still had the mindset that I would return to Alberton in 2019.

Meeting with other clubs for the first time in my career was such a bizarre scenario. I actually told Kenny that I felt like I was cheating on a girlfriend. It just wasn’t a great feeling and I didn’t enjoy it.

But things started to move quickly and the opportunity at Hawthorn came up, and I started to have doubts as to whether I was wanted at Port, because as you can imagine, getting your name thrown up for a trade isn’t exactly the best feeling!

I chose Hawthorn because they felt like the best fit for me. Unbelievably, it all happened within a week and a half. It was pretty crazy to say the least that I went from certain to be playing at the Power, to certain to be playing at the Hawks.

I spoke to Ken a couple of nights ago, and he understood my decision and I understood the club’s position. Our relationship couldn’t be further from how the media have portrayed things.

If you’ve seen the coverage in Adelaide, it has been a bunch of lies and a lack of understanding. Just because a deal like this has gone through, it doesn’t mean they have to jump to conclusions and reach for the negative angle.

In reality, it has been mutual on all sides and sometimes the media don’t like that, because they can’t sell it.

That is why I posted on Instagram and told everyone to be patient until they heard my side of the story.

Past greats of the club have spoken about my exit meeting in various forums, and said that the coaches and the leaders complained about me being a sook and that they were over me.

I rang Ken to see if there was any truth to that, and he told me that nothing had come from the club — there was no truth to it — and that’s just how the media want to play things.

To read and hear those things hurt a lot because I feel like I have given a lot back to the club and the fans. All I can do now is move on.

One of the important aspects of joining the Hawks was that they had that brother connection with Jarman Impey, Shauny Burgoyne, Cyril Rioli, Lance Franklin, Chance Bateman, just to name a few.

It felt like most indigenous players that have played there have thrived and felt comfortable.

The conversations with Jarman were important for me, because he has witnessed both clubs in recent times, so we could compare everything from coaches, to training, game style and everything in between.

I told him not to give me the crap and the policy, just tell me how it is. Those discussions gave me a good understanding of what the Hawks are like.

The move to Melbourne provides a new challenge, and the opportunity to enjoy my football again and revitalise myself.

I haven’t enjoyed the game over the last couple of years, so a fresh challenge will hopefully bring the best out of me.

To have the MCG as my new home ground and to play in front of a ridiculous amount of fans is exciting. I can’t wait for new challenge and will just take me out of my comfort zone.

I want to be uncomfortable and to get better as a player and as a man.