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Players’ Voice — Fletcher Roberts

With the AFL team finished for the year, things have been a little bit different over the past week in terms of how the week has been run.

Since the end of the season, the team’s training day usually starts around 2 in the afternoon, where we usually come in for treatment, a few meetings and weights before training with the VFL group from 5:30pm — three times a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.

In a way it’s been a major plus because I’ve had the mornings to be able to focus on my uni studies.

It’s been a real credit to the club the way they’ve been able to organise it, to make sure we have been able to get as much out of ourselves throughout the week. Despite the slight change of routine, the club’s staff have done everything possible to make sure myself and my teammates are prepared for the weekend’s game.

As a group, I think we’ve approached the VFL finals series with a great attitude right across the board. Myself, along with the other AFL-listed guys, have been really excited to play with the VFL boys. It’s also special for the likes of Matthew Boyd and Jordan Russell who are finishing up at the end of the season.

When ‘Boydy’ is still playing with Footscray, despite having had his farewell game, it demonstrates the type of character he is. It really shows how much the club means to him and how dedicated he is despite having retired from the AFL.

I don’t think anyone at the club would have been disappointed if he had decided not to have been involved with the VFL after his final game.

We have so much respect for the VFL boys who work a full day then come in for training. It is a massive commitment and shows how dedicated they are to the club and their footy. Seeing them do that gives me a lot of love and passion for the team.

It can sometimes be a tricky task in learning about all the guys coming through the VFL team during the year.

But as a club the Western and Footscray Bulldogs are strong in their ability to invest in anybody who walks through the doors no matter if you have played an AFL game or not.

Despite there being a bit of change throughout the year, the club do several sessions during pre-season with those guys and you get to learn a lot about them. Everyone is invited to our social nights so as a team we get the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the entire club.

As a group, there is plenty of drive to make a big impact over the coming weeks despite having various inconsistencies in the last month and a half. We know that if we play our best footy we are capable of anything we put our mind to.

Plenty of senior players were at the game against Essendon on Sunday supporting us, and they were all in the rooms afterwards. Seeing them there makes me proud to be part of the club — it makes me even more determined to win for them.

I’m into my sixth year of footy so I’m quickly becoming one of the more experienced players at the club. And with that in mind, I’ve been trying to develop my leadership when I’ve played with Footscray during the year.

We are a close-knit defensive unit and I’ve tried to pass on as much as I know about the game so when their opportunity comes they are ready to play. I often get a sense of pride when they take the next step.

Across the board, we are always really positive and focused on getting the best out of each other. Even if it is not our best game we make sure we show support and turn our attention back to what will make us the best players and people we can be.

Over the next few weeks at Footscray, all of us want to buy into the VFL finals experience and give it our best shot.

Some haven’t experienced this time of year and now they’re getting that opportunity, which will benefit them as players and us as a team.

We’re going to give it our best shot and that’s all we can ask of one another.