My time at the Gold Coast Suns was a bit of a rollercoaster. I didn’t know what to expect. I had a lot of excitement to move up there, but it was all a bit of a blur.
One of the positives, however, was that we all moved over as youngsters, and in some ways, grew up together.
Moving from Victoria at 17 was a difficult experience, but it was exciting because I was fulfilling a dream and was part of a new club.
Unfortunately, the last couple of seasons were frustrating due to injuries and a bit of poor form.
The last two years have been tough. As an AFL player, there’s nothing worse than being injured. The last thing you want is to be on the sidelines when your teammates are out there playing.
I honestly learnt a lot throughout that period, and I think I’ve come out the other end as a better player and more importantly, a better person.
I managed to learn a lot about my body — what worked and what didn’t work — and how to prepare.
Having a few soft tissue injuries in the past, it was incredibly important for me to find out how they were coming about and how to get over them. It can take a few years for athletes to come to grips with their bodies.
Remarkably, after playing plenty of senior football in my first five years, I was stuck on 99 games for 12 months. From about halfway through 2016, to halfway through 2017, I was in limbo and genuinely concerned as to whether I’d reach the milestone.
Once it started to get to 10 or 11 months without a senior game, I started to worry. Thankfully, I continued to keep pushing and did everything right and finally got over the hump against the Swans in Round 16.
As the 2017 season came to a close, I was happy to stay at the Suns, but I also thought a new start would be good for me.
A fresh environment, a fresh group of teammates and a fresh club will serve me well. It was important for me, as a 25-year-old, to get out of the same routine and get out of my comfort zone.
I think that will help me to become the player I want to become.
After being delisted by Gold Coast at the end of October, I didn’t have to wait long to find a new home.
Having known Ken Hinkley well from his time at the Suns made Port a viable option for me. He’s a good man, and he looked after me in the past, so I leapt at it.
Seeing they had picked up some exciting players already in the off-season was also a catalyst for me to join Port Adelaide. They’re an exciting club who appear to be going places, so I had no issues moving to South Australia.
Walking into a new club, I didn’t know what to expect, especially when you consider there was about 10 other new faces walking in with me. But it was also strange for the existing players who consistently saw new members coming through the doors. I’m looking forward to playing games and seeing how we all gel.
Training is very different to playing when it comes to identifying skill-sets, you can pick up little things about your teammates, but it’s generally in the games where you begin to gain an understanding. I can’t wait for the pre-season games to come round.
Sam Powell-Pepper is one that has really shocked me.
The way he plays on the field — he’s tough, strong and aggressive — but off it, he’s calm and composed and quite shy.
He has been really good for me, he’s welcomed me into the club, and I have found him to be great to speak to. It’s amazing how you can have a different view of someone, and then how that can change when you get to know them.
Aside from Charlie Dixon who I am now living with, the only other players I knew were Robbie Gray and Jack Trengove from playing International Rules, so it’s been a fair adjustment.
Seeing Robbie back out on the track has been fantastic. It’s awesome to see that he is feeling good, and it’s also amazing to see another superstar out there.
He has a certain presence about him, he reminds me a lot of Gary Ablett in the way he moves and his skills.
Just having him out there brightens everyone up around the club.
Many people will be pleased to know that my nickname has carried over from the Gold Coast to Alberton.
I’m honestly not sure where ‘The Cannon’ came from, but it has managed to stick. Funnily enough, some of the boys have already been yelling out ‘Cannon’ when I have the ball in my hands. I wouldn’t mind a new one at the new club!
There’s been plenty of commentary already in the media about how far we can go in 2018 given the new faces, but that was to be expected. It is a cliché, but you don’t hear that noise or think about it when you’re training. We just want to get out there and start winning some games.
As someone who hasn’t played finals in seven AFL seasons, or even remotely close to making it, I’m so driven to achieve that with Port.
It’s the reason you play and I hope I can stamp my spot in the team and we can go from there.