I knew my days at Melbourne were coming to an end.
I am a realistic guy and after continually being overlooked and not getting the opportunities that might have gone my way in the past, I went into the exit meeting knowing I’d be told my time at the club was done.
Despite having a fair idea what was coming, the reality of no longer being a player for the Melbourne Football Club, the place I have grown up and once captained, still hurt.
But there was also a sense of relief because, as most players would attest to, you live in a state of limbo during this period and now I finally have some closure.
Despite the setback, my main priority is to play footy for as long as I can and I feel like I still have so much more to offer. The fire in my belly still burns, and a fresh environment with a new set of eyes is exactly what I need. I strongly believe that I still belong at this level.
I am a glass-half-full type of person, though, so if footy finishes now and I have the opportunity to do something else in the world, I would go forward with as much motivation.
I am at that point now where an element of control is out of my hands and I will be excited wherever the next turn takes me. The goal is to keep playing because you are a long time retired, and the funny thing is while I am desperate to play, I am also prepared for the next phase if that doesn’t eventuate.
As I’ve grown older, the more I have realised that there is much more to life than footy. There are so many more things to experience in this great world that we live in, which I am certainly looking forward to.
My injuries have been well-documented and after being told back in 2015 by a specialist that I may never play again, I immediately adjusted my focus to completing my business degree at Monash University, of which I now have just six units to go.
When you are told frankly that your career could be over, the dream that had only really just begun, you start to think about other opportunities.
I am aware of some interest from other clubs, but as I have come to realise over my career, there are no guarantees in football. Clubs have certain objectives that they intend on achieving within the trade period, however, not all goes to plan.
I may not know the certainty of my future until the end of November but that is the harsh reality of the industry, and I have plenty to keep me busy between now and then.
The waiting period and uncertainty about your future is difficult to deal with but the only way you can cope well is by keeping busy.
If you are just sitting and waiting for the phone to ring, it could be a tough period of time to endure. I for one will spend the time catching up with much-loved family and friends, plus studying for upcoming exams in November. All while still catching up with the great people that I have met throughout my career so far, and talking about the challenges ahead and future aspirations.
I’ve been asked a bit recently to describe my AFL journey to date which has helped me reflect, and looking back, it’s been a fair roller-coaster with the highs being overshadowed by the lows at times.
But you can’t just focus on the lows.
I was fortunate to come in and play a lot of footy in my first four years — I think I barely missed a game — which was awesome for my development and learning.
I was extremely honoured to be named captain of the club and no doubt would have loved to have had more success during that time. I gave it absolutely everything that I had.
Then injuries didn’t go my why which wasn’t ideal but hindsight is a wonderful thing and I like to think that everything happens for a reason. I’ve learnt so much about myself as a person, met some incredible people, and have made lifelong friends.
In terms of a future away from footy, some of the people that I was fortunate enough to meet within it will play huge roles. I have great interest within the financial industry, and am enthusiastic about discovering more about that passion going forward.
While I would have loved to have had more success and perhaps even held up a premiership cup for the Demons, unfortunately I couldn’t do that, but I loved every minute of my time at that great club.
There are two memories that spring to mind as my favourite.
Firstly, after I was told I may not play footy again, I managed to make it back for the Queen’s Birthday clash against Collingwood in 2016 — it was my second game back — and we won.
It was such an amazing feeling to be back out on the ‘G with my best mates, listening to the fanatical Melbourne faithful roar with excitement, and eventually winning when a lot of people had doubted me.
This year came a similar situation when we beat Port Adelaide in Jack Watts’ 150th game. He’s one of my great mates and it made the whole day and experience so much better.
Despite what some may think, I am not annoyed or frustrated at the hand that I have been dealt.
Not many get the chance to play AFL — living out a childhood dream — and I have been able to do that.
We can get so wrapped up in the day-to-day grind and perhaps a lot of people forget that we are in fact doing what we grew up only dreaming about.
All I ever wanted was to walk out of the club knowing that I got the absolute most out of myself individually, and had a positive influence on my teammates and those around me.
It is a ruthless industry and probably only getting more so, but I knew that the day I signed up. There are not many fairy tale endings, but I feel that I am one of the lucky ones to have experienced some great moments and met some even better people.
I could never be bitter at the game for that.