Collingwood is one of the biggest clubs in the AFL so each week I feel there is a sense of pressure going into a game.
As a playing group, while we acknowledge it is there, I don’t feel that it affects us at all and 2017 has been no different in terms of external pressure to my first year at the Magpies last season.
While things didn’t exactly go to plan in the first five rounds, we had been doing a lot of things right, however, there were moments in games where we were letting opposition teams get on top of us.
Unfortunately, we never managed to crawl our way back. Personally, I feel we weren’t getting bang for buck for the way we had been playing and we’ve been getting that in the last three weeks.
There is a massive sense of belief inside the footy club and I think it is starting to show now in our recent performances. If you look at our games, we haven’t been blown out of the park and if we’re playing our best footy we are always in a position to win.
Reflecting on the Hawthorn game now, we were six goals down at quarter time and weren’t playing the way we wanted to.
It certainly was a line in the sand moment for us because we knew we had to do something different to get back into the game. I think after quarter time we got back to playing the way we wanted to, with a lot more freedom and confidence.
It’s one of the best wins I’ve been involved in since being drafted and I guess it’s re-started us.
The weekend’s victory against Fremantle also sits comfortably alongside the victory against Hawthorn in terms of enjoyment. At the time, we as players didn’t understand the adversity that was thrown on us that day with the injuries.
As a player, you just keep playing and it’s only after the final siren when you discover those stories. To win in Perth full stop is a massive effort but to go over there and put in that performance in trying circumstances was just awesome.
We had our review on Tuesday and ‘Goldy’ was part of a lot of the edits we watched, half of those things you miss when you are out on the field. The way he put his body on the line throughout the whole game was so inspiring. To play alongside him makes everyone stand taller. He’s done that type of stuff his whole career but the weekend’s game amplified what he is about.
Now we have to use that self-belief to keep going because we’re still a little bit behind the eight ball.
On a personal level, I don’t think anything out of the ordinary has helped me play the consistent footy that I’m displaying. Thankfully, I didn’t have any hiccups during my first full pre-season as an AFL player, meaning I rarely missed a session, which put me in a good position to play well.
Earlier in the season I wasn’t playing as well as I would’ve liked, but now I’m just focused on playing the role the coaches give me each week and trying to be as consistent as possible.
A lot of players post their first year in the system underestimate how much you can still learn about your footy. Even myself having been drafted as a mature-aged rookie I’m walking into to the club every week and learning new things.
For the second half of the year I’m aiming to be as consistent as possible but clearly as a club we want to play finals footy. The club hasn’t played finals for sometime now and I haven’t played finals at any level for a while so I would love to get there.
Monday’s game against Melbourne is an example of exactly that. The competition is so even at the moment, with so many teams in similar positions in terms of win-loss ratio and there is a lot of eight-point games up for grabs.
Just 18 months ago I was working in childcare and would have probably laughed if you had told me that I would be playing at the top level. I’m still incredibly grateful that Collingwood gave me the opportunity and have continually shown faith in me.
What we can achieve all comes back to that self-belief, we believe our best is good enough to beat anyone.
We just need to stick together, trust the coaches and, most importantly, trust each other.