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Q&A — Anthony Miles

After playing just six games in the past two seasons, the time was right for Anthony Miles to seek a fresh start. The 26-year-old was traded earlier this week to the Suns, and discusses the challenges he faced at Richmond, why he make the tough decision to leave, and what is ahead at the Gold Coast.

How difficult have the last two years been, playing just six games and seeing the team grow and progress so far?

Obviously, you’re stoked with the team success that the club’s having, but the by-product of that is that guys miss out and unfortunately for me, I was on the wrong side of that. I played a lot of footy in the years previous to that, and then to play six games in two years was a bit frustrating. It’s a hard side to break into when you win a premiership one year, and then finish two games clear on top the next year.

I remember Trent Cotchin made a speech after winning the Best Captain Award and he was talking about how important certain people were at the club, and especially those behind closed doors who externally weren’t receiving the accolades. He mentioned your name, and clearly that would be a positive for you, but why is he saying that? How did you remain such a strong presence despite not receiving senior opportunities?

For me, the focus was to control what I could control and to still be as much of a leader as I could be around the club and to play the best footy I could, no matter where that was. Selection in my opinion was out of my control and to continue to play well at VFL and to push for senior selection I think held the club in good stead. Our VFL program had a lot of success, and even though we didn’t win a premiership, we won a lot of games of footy and I think that’s what Trent was eluding to. Previously it has been shown that people can drop their bundle if they have played a lot of senior footy and then they’ve come back to the VFL, but it was a focus for myself and a lot of other guys in similar boats to play well and have a good attitude towards the VFL program.

Did an element of self-doubt creep in over the last two seasons?

There was an element of self-doubt, but I feel like I consistently played reasonable games of footy in the VFL, and then when I came into the senior side I played well. It was more that I was just the last in and the first out of a good team. If Dustin Martin goes out for a few weeks, he is going to come straight back in. The AFL games I did play, I have taken some confidence from that, and in previous years at Richmond, I finished fourth and sixth in their best and fairest, so I feel like I have plenty to offer. The self-doubt has been put to rest in that I still feel like I have something to offer.

How were you on that last Saturday in September on 2017… it must have been bittersweet?

You’d be lying if you said there wasn’t a little bit of jealousy because you dream of playing in a Grand Final and winning one and I have since I can remember. There were a lot of mixed emotions because some of your best mates are playing, and one of my best mates in Jacob Townsend came into the side late and was a part of the premiership. You are thrilled for those guys, but a little part of you wants to be part of that success because you’ve been dreaming of it for so long.

Knowing about the strong relationships and bonds you have built at Richmond, how difficult was it to inform the club that you wanted to look elsewhere?

By the time of our last game in the VFL, I had a reasonable idea that it would be my last game for Richmond, and I didn’t think I’d get that emotional but it all caught up with me. I love the Richmond Football Club and they have been great for me, particularly early days, and to play your last game with guys who you have built strong relationships with made it difficult. But I can’t wait to get up to the Gold Coast and bring the importance of good relationships with me.

Talk me through that emotion in your last game… it was a tough finish to the season!

Yeah, the way we lost with one of the last kicks of the game was tough. And then knowing right after that it was going to be my last game just caught up with me. I’m generally not emotional, but there’s a lot of people in the VFL program who had invested a lot in me, so to be in a way playing your last game — Sam Lloyd was playing as well and plenty of my close mates — made me pretty emotional. Even with a minute to go I thought we were going to win the game and it wasn’t going to be the last game, but that’s footy and that’s how it operates sometimes.

Moving to the Gold Coast with Corey Ellis makes the move a little bit easier, I would imagine…

Yeah, it will! We played a lot of footy together this year and know each other well, so it will help to have a familiar face up there with me. By the looks of it, they’re going to have a lot of new faces so it’s exciting.

How long has the opportunity to play up north been on the cards?

We were in discussions this time last year and both clubs decided it was right to stay at Richmond for another year, and I was hopeful to be part of success after seeing it from afar in 2017. Then discussions re-opened again this year and Richmond — in particular Blair Hartley and Dimma — were great in letting me know that they were happy for me to get more senior opportunities somewhere else and assisted in facilitated getting me there. Fortunately enough, Gold Coast showed some interest and it was seamless in the end.

Apart from the obvious on-field component, what else do you want to bring to the Suns?

It is something that can be missed in the AFL, and that is why we play footy. That was emphasised at Richmond and the element that we started playing football at 10 or 11 years of age for the enjoyment of it, so I want to preach that and the fact that results and enjoyment can go hand in hand. I’d like to take that up there and I also have a passion for the development side of things and working with Gold Coast’s young crop of midfielders. Hopefully I can show them the sorts of things I’ve learnt from Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin over the course of my five years at Richmond.

What do the next few weeks look like for you? Will you get some time away before moving?

Richmond only finished three weeks ago so it has been a full on few weeks, and I’m actually getting married on November 2 so it’s a pretty hectic time. Then the honeymoon will come and then I will be straight back into pre-season!

And apart from getting married, what else have you been up to off the field?

I’m about 60 percent through a teaching degree which keeps me busy. I also like getting out on the water and fishing whenever I can, but it gets a bit hard in winter in Melbourne. That’s a nice release for me.

The weather up north will be a bit nicer for you…

I can’t wait mate! A bit of sun and some fish will be great.

All the best with the move, I hope it works out well for you.

Thanks Simon, I appreciate that mate.