Before the combine, I’d been to Melbourne once to visit family from my mum’s side, so I wasn’t too familiar with the city when I walked into Carlton. I also hadn’t been to the MCG until Round 1 against Richmond.
Melbourne makes my hometown of York in WA seem like a ghost town! It’s a lot colder over here and the traffic is on another level.
Thankfully I live in Brunswick which is close to the club so I don’t have to drive too much.
It was a surreal feeling to walk into the Carlton Football Club.
I don’t think it sunk in until I was about two months in. To call Marc Murphy a friend is strange to think about even now. I was so overwhelmed in my first two weeks.
Looking back at it, it was such an exciting time for me. You have to come out of your shell and interact and show leadership as soon as possible, so I did my best to speak up and get to know others.
It helped that I wasn’t the only newbie in the place, with recruits and other first-years joining me. I’m quite comfortable speaking to others because I’m a bubbly person which I get from my parents.
Carlton had shown the most interest in me leading up to the draft, but I never really knew where I was going to go. I thought my size may be a hindrance, but I had a decent carnival which clearly helped.
Wearing the No. 25 is a special thing.
At Carlton, it has such a tremendous history with the likes of Alex Jesaulenko and Brendan Fevola wearing it. I’ve met both legends and I’m still learning about the number every day.
What was even more special was that they took the time to talk to me and provide some advice.
Jesaulenko spoke to me about how the game was played and that I need to have the versatility to play forward and back. Fev, on the other hand, told me that I needed to kick a few snags! He’s a joker and a good guy.
Since being drafted, I’ve been smashing the gym from the pre-season to now because the club wants to fast-track my development when it comes to my body. I’m spending a lot of time in the strong room and getting my diet right so I can be AFL-ready as soon as possible.
It’s not what I’m eating, but more the amount of meals I’m having each day. The first-year players are on a similar program, but I’m working out about three days a week to build my muscle.
My parents have come over a little bit since I have been at the Blues, and fortunately they have been able to see me play a couple of times. I was able to spend a few extra days in Perth when we played there a little while back which was nice. I look forward to seeing them again when we play West Coast in a few weeks.
While it is daunting to move away from home at such a young age, I was prepared for it.
From Year 8 to Year 12, I was a boarder at Guildford College so I have been in a similar position. Having said that, it is challenging to get on a plane and move away, rather than being an hour’s drive from home.
It’s my parents dream as much as mine to play AFL so they were fine with me moving.
At Carlton, there’s 9 or 10 WA boys so we all stick together.
Having them around has made my transition easier. I’m living with fellow rookie Sam Petrevski-Seton which has been great because we’re experiencing everything together. It makes it easier for us to help each other out.
I’ve always competed against Sam, so it’s funny to fight for a spot in the team with him now. I have always been a little bit intimidated by him because he was a big buy when he was younger, and he had two rat tails.
He was annoying to play against because he was so good, but incredibly impressive to watch in full flight.
When at the club, I try to follow Marc Murphy around and learn from him. I think we have similar playing styles with regards to skill and size. He’s such a hard worker and he is very professional in the way he prepares and trains. The younger players learn things from just being around him. He’s a great role model, on and off the field.
It has been great to play 11 senior games so far, but I always want to play better because I expect the most out of myself.
While I’m very lucky and grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given, I still don’t think I’ve strung four quarters together yet and I want to do that. I’m still learning out the running patterns in the AFL, and also still adapting to my forward role at the club.
In the past, I’ve been able to jog and get disposals, but at this level everything is at high speed. I’ve had small hits on the wing, and I do plan to push into the midfield, but I have played predominantly up forward thus far.
Given I am playing up the ground, I have watched a lot of film with Matt Wright so far this year. He is one of the more experienced forwards we have up there so his help has been invaluable.
Quite often I get asked which players I like to watch from other clubs and who I would like to compare myself to.
I’ve modelled my game on Andrew Gaff a little bit. He’s a good user, a left-footer, a strong runner and he even has a similar running style with the hunchback. He’s awesome to watch in full flight and I look forward to playing against him.
So far, 2017 has been such a blast. It has flown by and I have learnt a lot and picked up some great experiences.
As a team, we have shown a lot and plenty of that is down to the progression of the younger boys.
We have had five rising stars this season which is an awesome achievement. I’d love to make it six and I’ll give it my best shot, but it’s not what I’m aiming or hoping for. It’d just be some nice recognition.
With six games to go, I don’t want to waste a minute.