Jordan Murdoch was facing football mortality late last year when he was delisted by the Cats after six years. He was thrown an AFL lifeline by the Gold Coast SUNS and is determined to make the most of the opportunity.
You moved to the SUNS at the end of last season. How are you settling in?
I’m absolutely loving it. I couldn’t have imagined settling in more comfortably and quicker than I have. I think it helps that, unlike in Victoria, the majority of the playing group is from interstate. We’ve all come from our different areas and the club has a really good, strong family culture where everyone is included and everyone is accepted. I’m really loving that at the moment.
Leaving Geelong, that must have been a bit of a difficult time last year. Can you talk me through that?
I finished the year in the side that lost the elimination final to Melbourne. I was out of contract, which was a different feeling. I’d never been out of contract at that time of year before, and going into my seventh season, there’s always the worry of not exactly knowing what’s going to happen next. I had a meeting with the heads of the football club and they decided that my time at the club had finished and thanked me for what I’d done. Obviously, you never love that. I had built some great friendships, not just with the players, but with the staff at the Cats. They’re always the things that you’re going to miss the most, but I had to focus my mind on what would happen next. It helps of course to have a good manager, and I was very lucky that I came across an opportunity both at St Kilda and at Gold Coast. In the end I couldn’t have been happier with the choice my wife and I made to move up here and start our lives on the coast.
What appealed to you most about going to Queensland and playing with the SUNS?
When we first went up there I think we were pretty close-minded. I think that was partly because the Suns get a bad rap in Victoria and elsewhere, and because there aren’t many people to defend them outside of the Gold Coast. We probably got drawn into that a little bit and we weren’t sure about a big move. But the day we went up and met all the coaches — and even some of the players and staff that were hanging around — we were absolutely blown away by their commitment to wanting to take the club in a new direction. For me, I loved the idea of being able to have an influence on a young group and to get the best out of myself — not just in terms of football, but also leadership. The weather and the lifestyle is a bonus as well. That was where my head was at.
You mentioned you want to have an influence on a young group. You’ve got over 100 games experience — six of those finals. How will you use your experience to guide a younger list?
They’ve picked up a few of us (with more experience). There’s George (Horlin-Smith) who I was with at the Cats, and guys like Anthony Miles, Jack Hombsch, Corey Ellis. They’re mature age guys who have come from clubs with successful cultures. I think it is important for us to come in and drive the standards and to lead by example and really teach that to the young guys. As well as being quite vocal on-field, we will be trying to create a culture that will not only help us for one year but for years and years to come — one that guys outside the club will want to buy into and carry forward.
You travelled to NZ for the pre-season camp — how did that help for bonding with your new teammates and did anyone stand out to you?
It was awesome, I loved it. At Geelong I hadn’t done that for a couple of years, so it was relatively new for me. I loved being able to put the phone away for a couple of days and get to know the guys by talking. We were split up into our own sort of competitive groups and we got to know and form real bonds with that group as well as everyone else. Some of the older guys — Jarrod Harbrow, Pearce Hanley as well as some of the middle tier guys who are my age, really drove that process, as well as the leadership group that’s carried on from last year. We really feel like we can draw a lot off that and build towards the season.
Where do you see yourself playing at the SUNS?
I’ve played the majority of my footy forward and on the wing, but always loved playing back. Since I met Dewy the first day, that’s where he envisioned me. I’ve been training with the backs for most of, or pretty much all of, the pre-season and I’ve been looking to use some competitive aspects of my game — like speed — in that role. But I also think that, with new kick-ins and especially with the ground being open at times, I have the potential to use my assets and break up the game and be an offensive weapon off half back.
Some players study, some players have trades. What do you do outside of footy to keep a balance?
I’m doing a PE Teaching course at the moment, and I’ve been working on the process of transferring from Deakin to Griffith University up here, to make things a little bit easier. That’s something I’ll continue with. I’m also looking to do a couple of coaching courses as well, just to keep that option open post-footy, as well as doubling it up with the PE teaching — I feel like they’ll help each other.
Finally, now you’re living on the Coast, do you have any recommendations?
I live in Burleigh Heads, quite luckily. 300 metres from Tallebudgera Creek which is an amazing spot. It’s amazing we have the weather we do, you can go there 16 hours of the day and it’s picturesque and beautiful. You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. As far as restaurants go, I haven’t been to heaps but I highly recommend The Collective in Palm Beach — it’s got five restaurants that you can choose from. It’s probably too easy how much you can get and load up on. The bill goes up very quickly, but I definitely recommend that.
Thanks for your time Jordan, really appreciate it.
No worries at all, thank you.