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Q&A – Cameron Guthrie

Cameron Guthrie is set to play his 150th game against Port Adelaide on Saturday night so our Digital Manager Ben Guthrie decided to catch up with his brother to get his thoughts on his upcoming milestone. 

Benjamin Guthrie: Alright, Cam we’re on the record now.

Cameron Guthrie: No worries, Ben. I’ll switch into my serious mode.

Let’s get down to business shall we? You played your 50th game in Sydney, your 100th in Perth and you play your 150th in Adelaide on Saturday night. What is it with you playing your milestone games interstate? Talk about inconvenient for the family! 

Not sure why it’s been like that. But we’re lucky for milestone games, the AFL look after you with two flights and accommodation for people to come and attend so it works out well from that point of view. It would be nice to play a home game for a milestone, I guess, but I’m happy with how it’s panned out so far.

How important is it for you to reflect on what you’ve achieved in your career so far?

You get a bit of recognition during the week from the club which is great and you can reflect and give yourself a bit of a pat on the back for your career so far. It’s good to look back and appreciate what you’ve achieved so far, but come game day it’s business as usual. And we’ll be pushing hard to get the four points.

Playing a straight bat I see, Cam. Alright that’s how it’s going to be! You don’t deliberately seek the limelight do you?

It’s not really deliberately. I’m happy to step up and do what’s required of me media wise and represent the club well when I can. I’m not as out there as what a few of the boys might be and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to that. I guess it’s a bit of a reflection of how you go about things, but I’m comfortable with how I represent myself and my family. But ultimately I want my football to do the talking. That’s what I’m here for.

How much does your preparation change when you play interstate?

It can be a bit of a long build up because you don’t have your usual environment where you have plenty of things to do at the ready like you would if you played at home or in Melbourne. The hotel room can get a bit quiet and lonely, but it’s a good experience to travel and bond with your teammates on the road and create that energy and excitement when you go over and play on someone else’s deck.

You’re renowned as a big sleeper in our family and I’m tipping that doesn’t change when you travel for footy? 

I don’t know how many interstate games I would have played, maybe 30 or 35 I’m guessing (Guthrie has played 35), but I reckon I fall asleep 95 per cent of the time on the bus on the way from Geelong to Melbourne Airport.

(L-R: Zach Guthrie, Josh Guthrie, Cam Guthrie, Ben Guthrie)

What have been the biggest challenges across your 149 games?

I honestly think it’s a challenge to keep rocking up and maintaining your effort and intensity at training and in games. It’s something I get a lot out of obviously, but at the same time it’s hard work. It’s rewarding when things come together and you win games and finals, but it is a challenge to get yourself up for every game during a long year. You’ve got your teammates to fall back on and they really help you through it.

Early in your career you started as a small defender and got handed some tough tasks on really dangerous forwards. Now you’re playing more as a run-with-midfielder on some of the AFL’s best players. How do you prepare for those sorts of roles?

I tend to watch a lot of match vision on the opponents I’m going to line-up on. Being more of a midfielder I spend a fair bit of time watching centre bounces that the opposition has had over the last three weeks, looking out for the opposition ruckman’s favourite hit zone and tracking the opposition midfielders’ tendencies. That makes me feel really confident going into games that I’ve seen it all before and almost have a head start on my opponent. Little things like knowing whether players are left or right footers might help you set up a tackle and win the ball back for your team. Doing your homework is an important part of the game.

You’re playing with guys like Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Tim Kelly and Mitch Duncan so often they seem to get priority when it comes to winning the ball. Do you accept that that’s part of your role?

I wouldn’t think they have priority, I definitely have my chances to win the ball. They’re exceptional players and I enjoy playing with every one of them. I’m really encouraged to go out and win the ball and if it’s there to be won I’ll do it. I don’t crave to get more of the ball than I already do, I’m just happy to do what’s best for the team and at the moment that’s working really well for us.

After being very durable early on in your career you’ve had a few injury issues over the last 18 months. How tough has it been to recapture your best form after those setbacks?

I’ve had a couple of years in a row now where I’ve had some injury issues (calf and ankle) which prior to that I hadn’t had to deal with too much. It was a bit of a learning experience but as an AFL player you’ve got to be resilient. I’m comfortable with where my body is at at the moment. Rocking up and knowing what your body needs before every training session or game is vitally important. That process starts well before you get out on the track or arrive at the ground before a match. My good mate (former Geelong player) Josh Cowan said it best when I spoke to him about it one day. He just said he wouldn’t forgive himself if he got injured after skipping one bit of his preparation and that’s the mindset you’ve got to take when you’re a professional sportsman.

You get to play with one of our best childhood mates in Mark Blicavs and our younger brother Zach is also at the club. You must pinch yourself sometimes?

As a footballer, you’re generally looking forward and don’t get to smell the roses that much but when you think about it it’s pretty amazing that I get to play alongside Mark who we spent a lot of time with as kids. And then to play with Zach, who I still see as my little brother because there was a six-year age gap between us, is incredible too. I would never have dreamed that we’d be at the same AFL club as little kids. I definitely appreciate the times I get to run out next to them on game day. My brother Josh was also in the Geelong VFL program for a few years and I got to play with him in a practice game as well which was a cool experience.

Now you were an emergency for the 2011 Grand Final in your first season and since then the club hasn’t reappeared on the big stage. You must see this year as a big opportunity to change that?

Being on an AFL list and having the team win the premiership, and you weren’t part of that honestly hurts quite a bit. We had a lot of good players and a great team but it really hit me that day and I was really disappointed – really only in myself – not to be part of that. We’ve been in a few preliminary finals since then and haven’t quite been able to take that next step. I think we’ve got the team to succeed this year, but we’ve still got half a year to go so we’ll be looking to finish the season strongly and see how we go from there.

OK, how about this. I’ve started in a new role as digital manager at the AFL Players’ Association recently so I want to know how much my colleagues have helped you out during your footy career.

The AFLPA don’t get the recognition they deserve from players sometimes. They do a great job behind the scenes looking after our interests. Negotiating the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) is a big priority of theirs and getting fair working conditions for players across the League. Members of the AFLPA workforce come down each year but sometimes I don’t know how to show my appreciation towards them and what they do. Can you pass that on?

I’ll let them know (laughs)

From a study point of view, I’m halfway through a health/science degree at university so the study grants really help the players and when you’re in the system you really want to make the most of those opportunities. And that’s what I’ve really tried to do and the AFLPA have really supported me in those pursuits.

I know that you’re a keen golfer and surfer. How important is it to have that balance in your life?

It’s really important to have those hobbies and professional interests that might set you up career wise when your footy career comes to an end. But it’s also good to have those things you do in your spare time outside of footy. I like getting out on the course and down to the beach because I enjoy doing those things.

Is there anyone you would like to thank, apart from myself obviously, for the influence they’ve had on your career?

Now Ben don’t take all the credit, but clearly my family and plenty of other people have played their role. I could easily list 25 names and really be sincere about how they’ve helped me get to this point. It starts at your junior club, and for me that was the Sunbury Lions and it’s great how people give up their time and teach you the right way to play. Then I moved onto the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup and they had a great program, top coaches and a really good administration who were very supportive. At the Cats, I feel at home and I couldn’t really picture myself playing at another AFL club. I’ve had plenty of great coaches coming through that system who have had a big impact on my career.

Thanks for your time Cam. Good luck for your 150th.

No worries, Ben. Appreciate the chat.