After 101 games with the Brisbane Lions, midfielder Sam Mayes was traded back to his home state of South Australia in a three-way trade involving Port Adelaide and Hawthorn. The 24-year-old opened up to AFLPlayers.com.au about the lure of returning home, his struggle with form and what can he offer the Power.
The deal went through relatively late in the trade period, was there an element of concern that it might not happen before the trade deadline?
I let it unfold, with my manager (Michael Doughty) doing most of the work to be honest. He took the reins and was able to make something happen which was great. I spoke with him a couple of times a week just to run through certain things but mainly left it all up to him.
In terms of orchestrating a trade, was it important for you to just be back home in South Australia?
Yes and no, I have loved my time up in Brisbane and made a lot of friendships up there, I had never thought about leaving this place until I spoke to Fages throughout the year and he had said he was open to me exploring my options. Over the following weeks I had thought strongly about it and let the club know in my exit meeting that I would explore my options like they had suggested. South Australia was my preference and I let the club know that pretty early on so that they could orchestrate that and do what they had to do and they were open to helping me out so that was good.
How strong was that desire to return home? You mentioned that you let them know relatively early on, how early was that?
I started to get quite frustrated midway through the year. I was playing in the reserves and the coaches obviously didn’t think I was playing well enough to go back up to the senior side but I felt like I was going OK. I returned to the side for a couple of games, including my 100th game, and was dropped for a second time after playing what I thought was a reasonable game. After that I was travelling emergency, we had byes and then I was an emergency again. There was a period where I hadn’t played football for three weeks and I wasn’t injured, I just wasn’t playing. It just never eventuated that I would get back into the senior side. I had a few personal off-field things going on as well from the beginning of the year that was a bit of a lure as well. These things probably affected my footy a bit more than I first anticipated, not that it is an excuse or anything, but when your mental state isn’t 100 per cent it is a bit hard to physically perform which has become a lot more common. Mental health has been a big discussion topic these days, which is good. As the season went on I started to have a bit more of a pullback to home.
It was publicised also that Chris Fagan felt you had some areas of your game to work on, does that factor into your on-field performance when your coach feels that there are areas of your game that need to be better?
I had conversations with Fages throughout the year and he outlined what I needed to work on to get back into the side. I found that quite frustrating as well though because I went back to the reserves level and I guess that is where Fages and I sort of weren’t on the same page. I thought I had improved in a few areas and was pushing my claim but I still wasn’t playing so that’s where a bit of frustration started to creep in. This is when I started to question why I am not playing.
Your former captain in Tom Rockliff is at the Power, do you think having a familiar face inside the four walls will help you settle in?
Yeah definitely, I think it’s always good to have people that you know around the place. I got along with Tommy when he was up in Brisbane. I think it will be a little bit easier to meet some guys through him, which will be very helpful. I will probably feed off him a little bit and ask questions.
You’ve spoken about how you feel you were still playing good football for the Lions, what do you think you can offer Port Adelaide?
I think I can offer some good run and ball use, a player that can use the ball well by foot and link up play. Also, having played 100-odd games I will bring a little bit of leadership in my own way which will hopefully help develop others. I will have to have a bit more discussion with the coaches but thinking through previous discussions probably wing/ half-forward area will be the position. I have played the last few seasons down back and learnt a lot but naturally I feel wing and half-forward is where I play my best footy. I think it will be in that area unless I am required to play a little bit of time across half-back.
What are your plans over the remaining few weeks of the off-season?
I haven’t made any plans of yet in terms of moving. I have a few things to attend to in Brisbane. My partner Cassie is a bridesmaid in a wedding next weekend, so I will stick around until after that at least. I will have to figure out some living arrangements and go from there. I’d say early November I will start to transition down and meet some of the new teammates before training officially goes. Until then I will be training and getting myself prepared whilst making the most of my down time and spending time with Cass.
Thanks for the chat Sam, good luck with pre-season and everything for next year.
No worries, thank you. I’m really looking forward to it.