The West Coast Eagles continue to surprise the competition and are sitting nicely on top of the AFL ladder after Round 9. One of the keys to their exhilarating form has been the rise of Jack Redden in recent weeks. The former Lion talks to AFLPlayers.com.au about the turning point in his game, making the move west and becoming a father.
Thanks for joining me Jack. I think it’s safe to say the Eagles are going well and you’ve surprised a few this season. How have you seen things?
Yeah, as a team, we’re going really well because we have 22 contributors every week and every line is playing well together. Everyone is getting a kick out of making their teammates better and, personally, that’s helping my own brand of footy.
We had a focus during the pre-season to have more speed and that seems to be showing at the moment and the boys are running out games really well. There’s a lot of energy around the group.
That’s a nice segue because your own form has resulted in a rise on the stats sheet since Round 6. Can you explain the sudden rise?
It was my first off-season without surgery for a few years now. It’s good to have a clean run at it, which creates a good foundation for the season ahead. Now I’m in a good position to capitilise and hopefully have a good year. Everything seems to be clicking.
Was there something that just clicked before the Derby in Round 6?
I’m obviously playing in a rotation in the midfield and, earlier in the season, I didn’t have the balance right between playing inside and outside – I was probably playing more outside. I think I’ve corrected the balance now and am playing to my strengths a lot more. When I’m playing well, I’m hunting the footy and I think I’ve found that balance again because when that’s clicking I feel like I can impact the game.
I think I’m more of an inside midfielder whereas in previous years I’ve played more outside – that’s probably due to the fact we had two Brownlow Medallists in the side last year. It also helps when we have the big Fijian back in the middle of the ground. You can’t underestimate the dominance he has in the ruck and our second ruck, Scott Lycett, is pretty handy as well.
It all stemmed, for me, from the latter half of last year where I played up around the wing a bit, which allowed me to get around the ball more and that’s where I feel most comfortable – I don’t know if I’m much of a forward.
How would you describe your first two years at the Eagles?
It was a rollercoaster. I wanted to come in, have a good impact around the club and play good footy, everyone who changes clubs does, but I was very up and down for the first year and a half. I doubted myself at times and wondered if I was still up to it but I had good people and mentors around me like Adrian Hickmott and Sam Mitchell, who have instilled a lot of confidence in my game. I feel like I build a lot from here.
I know you mentioned the pre-season but have you changed anything mentally or physically this year that could’ve led to your rise in form?
I don’t think so. I get a lot of confidence out of my training standards and having that full pre-season adds a lot to that. I’ve already learnt a lot off Sam Mitchell this year so I’ll continue to be a sponge around him because he sees the game differently to most, he’s such a smart footballer. He’s helped me in a lot of subtle ways with my game.
Your running seems to be back on track, which is one of your strong suits, isn’t it?
Yeah, you don’t realise how much a pre-season actually does for you. It’s a ruthless industry and you have to adapt to different situations and the fact that you’re not always going to get a full pre-season but it definitely helps. I play my best footy when I’m winning the footy on the inside and am able to spread from the contest as well. When I can pull both of those together, I’m usually going okay.
Changing topics here, you’re from Keith, which was around 1,900km away from Brisbane and you’ve moved to Perth, which is 2,900km away. West Coast must’ve shown a lot of interest for you to move further away?
At the time, I thought they were the best fit for me in terms of the Eagles’ list and where I sat among that. I thought they were a side that could have some good success down the track. While the first two years didn’t show that, I think the list is in really good shape now. When I was making the decision, Adelaide and Port Adelaide had a lot of depth through that inside midfielder role so they wouldn’t have had as much opportunity for me there.
My manager had a good relationship with West Coast so I came over and caught up with Adam Simpson and Craig Vozzo and they showed a lot of interest, which was mutual. I was entering the second half of my career and hadn’t experienced much success at all and that was a big driver for me.
You mentioned Adam Simpson there; how much of a role did he play in getting you across?
Simmo backs his recruiting and list management staff so he knew I’d be a good fit but I think he ultimately left it to his staff.
Did their interest almost make the decision an easy one in the end or did you continue to grapple with it?
It was tough because I loved Brisbane. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity there and I made a lot of great friends but the move suited my game and my future. That decision was very much a football decision.
Your wife is an Adelaide girl too; did it harder to move further away?
The first move to Brisbane was obviously hard for her because she’s very close to her family and she had a business back there. Then a few years later, we’re moving to the other side of the country so she wasn’t completely rapt but she understands this is a relatively short-term decision in the scheme of things. In the end, I think we’ll end up back in Adelaide and she’s very supportive.
What’s type of business does she have?
She’s a hairdresser. She had a hair salon in Adelaide and had to start a new one in Brisbane, built up some cliental and then we moved again so she hates me (laughs).
Speaking of career interests, I’m told you’re into your property, Is that where you’d like to go to when footy comes to an end?
Yeah, there’s and interest there. I have a few investment properties, a couple of them are in Brisbane, and I’m also doing a property design/drafting course in Perth in-between footy, which I’m enjoying and hopefully it’ll lead to getting a role in that industry when footy’s finished. Footy is the priority, clearly because that’s how you feed your family and keep a roof over your head but you need to make the most of the opportunity outside of the game as well.
Is that like an architecture course?
It’s basically a poor man’s architect. It’s basic building design that a tradie would use to build a standard house.
Where did you get those interests?
Originally, I did a carpentry course at TAFE after high school and my wife’s parents do a lot of subdividing and development so I thought building might be the go. Obviously playing footy, you earn good money so I tried to buy a couple of houses early and the interest sparked from there.
Has having these off-field interests helped your footy?
I think it does. Obviously footy is the priority but being organised off the field is good to take your mind off the game. It’s good to have something that allows you to freshen up during your day off.
You’ve just become a father for the first time as well, how has that changed your life?
Yeah, in early February had little Izzy. It’s challenging but very rewarding at the same time and we love it. It’s hard work as well because you don’t sleep as much but it’s so enjoyable to get home and see her smile and those little signs that she’s developing into a small person each day.
How do you balance all that with footy now because there’s a lot of things going on for you now? I’m sure Aymee plays a massive role there.
Aymee is great and she’s picked everything up so well. From my perspective, I just need to be really organised with everything I’m doing so it all fits in together and when I get home I can purely focus on family time and being present.
I guess that’s probably another thing you could learn off Sam Mitchell given he has three kids within a year of each other.
He does! He was playing footy and dealing with more extreme circumstance than I am. He’s got the three kids, two of which are twins, and he’s living proof of how important family time is but also that it can all work together.
You seem to be living a settled life now, has that played into your form that last few weeks?
It’s hard to tell if it has helped or not. I think with the little one and how happy I am to have her, it’s clearly not hurting my footy. Despite the lack of sleep at times, she brings so much joy that it balances it out well. I feel really settled at home and with footy so everything seems to be working okay at the moment.
Awesome, thanks for joining me, Jack.
No worries, mate. Anytime.