Tim Taranto is at home in the Giants’ midfield in 2019. Averaging 29 disposals and five clearances in his 12 games this year, the former No. 2 pick is putting together a career-best season. He chats with AFLPlayers.com.au ahead of his 50th game.
Tim, we know that you were drafted at pick No. 2 to GWS in the 2016 AFL Draft. Can you tell me a bit about your football journey? I’ve read that you were a talented junior basketballer. Was football always firmly on your radar?
I grew up playing a lot of football and a lot of basketball. I played for the Sandringham Sabres and got to represent Vic Metro in basketball in the under-16s, and then did a bit in the under-18s too. It got to the stage where, when I was about 17 and playing footy all the way through, that I had to make a decision. I didn’t really see much of a future with basketball so thought I would pursue football and that’s why I’m here today.
I believe that your Dad is from the United States. Did any American sports sway you? I know we spoke about basketball, did your Dad influence your decision much or were you quite focused on footy?
He was a big basketball fan and he was a pretty talented junior too – that’s kind of where I got the love of the game from. He came out and watched all of my big tournaments and was supportive of any decision that I chose to make. He’s loving football though – he watches every game, he wakes up at all hours of the night and sends me videos every week. He’s absolutely loving what I’m doing at the moment.
Comparisons are still made between you and the other players in the top three of your Draft year – Andrew McGrath and Hugh McCluggage. How did you find the trade period and were those comparisons challenging to deal with at the time?
Not really. I guess that time was pretty busy for me. I had year 12 and we had (TAC Cup) finals around then so I tried not to focus on it too much. But, obviously, it’s pretty hard to ignore it so I just kind of embraced whatever was going to happen. I was pretty confident that I’d be going interstate – I think that’s sort of how the top-10 looked in my year. I’m just happy I ended up being pick No. 2 at the Giants. Those other boys are having really, really good seasons. I grew up playing a lot of football with Andy McGrath as well, so I’m glad to see him doing well.
You touched on it then – do you pay much attention to how other players from your draft year are faring in their careers? Or is it more important to focus on yourself and your footy and how you’re going?
My focus is mostly on how I’m going and how the Giants are going, but every now and then I’ll give it a look and see how some of my friends are going and how some of the other boys from my draft year are progressing. I’m also good friends with Ollie Florent at the Swans. I catch up with him every now and then and we’ll chat about that, but mostly I’m just focused on my own footy.
You’re in your third year now and you’ll play your 50th game this weekend. Stats wise it has been your best season to date. What do you attribute your good form to?
I just work really hard. I’m always looking every week for ways to try and get better. This year I’ve had a lot more opportunity in the midfield and playing a position I prefer to play. I’m just trying to enjoy myself on-field and also off the field. I’m playing some alright footy, but I’m still looking to get better every week and looking to win more games. We’re only halfway through the season so hopefully I can continue to build.
Is there any one player at the Giants who has had a big influence on your career and your season this year in particular?
There are probably two main people: Stephen Coniglio and, even though he’s not playing at the moment, Cal Ward. Since I stepped into the club, they’re the two who I’ve tried to model my game on as much as possible – to learn from them as much as possible, they’re the players I want to be as good as one day. I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to work right by them every day.
What is it about them? Do they work on game vision with you, or is it advice and mentoring here and there?
I think it’s a combination of all of those things. We’ll go through vision together, we’ll talk footy together and we’ll talk things outside of footy as well. They’re just always giving me different bits of advice on how to do things, how to go about things and looking at ways to get better. They offer a more experienced perspective on things. They’re always helping me get better. I’m really grateful.
Can you tell me a little bit about your life outside of football? You’re a Melburnian, how are you enjoying life in Sydney?
It’s really good, I’ve settled in nicely. I see Sydney as home now and I’m loving my time here. I’ve got some close mates and strong friendships that have formed since being drafted here, so I’m very grateful for that. Outside of football these days, I’m playing a fair bit of golf. I’m going up to the Gold Coast on our bye to play some golf with a few of my mates – that’s pretty fun. I’m doing a little bit of study as well outside of footy. I’m going to the nice beaches as well and soaking up the lovely Sydney weather.
People talk about Brisbane and Sydney in particular being very much NRL cities and Queensland and New South Wales being NRL states. Are you happy to avoid living in an AFL ‘bubble’ state?
Personally, I like the quiet up in Sydney. I know when I arrived all of the boys were telling me how good it was to be in Sydney and not to be recognised and what not, and I was like “Wait, what are you talking about? That’s kind of cool, isn’t it?” I’m only in my third year now, but I guess, as I’ve got a little older and a little more experienced, I can totally understand what they’re talking about. It’s just good to be able to switch off from footy when you get home or when you go out to dinner. You don’t really have to worry about it too much unlike some of the people in Melbourne might have to experience. It’s a good positive to have.
I read that you were learning Italian at one stage with Josh Kelly. How did that go?
It was just something I tried for a semester. As I said, I’m always looking to try new things and so that was a bit of fun. We haven’t continued on to semester two though.
I listened to your podcast with Phil Davis on the Giants’ website. He spoke about your growing tattoo collection. Can you explain what some of them are and do you have plans to get any more?
Sure! My first tattoo was actually a goat, that’s on my hip. I was with one of my friends on the last day of school, so we decided to get a tattoo, which was a bit of fun. I’ve always liked them, so I got an eagle on my calf a couple of years ago and I then I got some work last off season on the same leg, so I’ll probably try and finish that leg off this off-season, if I get some time. It’s something I like, there’s no real reason behind them any of them, to be honest… I just like them.
That’s all from me. Thanks for your time, Tim. All the best for your 50th game this weekend.
Thanks for the chat – any time.