Over one of our bye weekends from football I didn’t have too much planned.
‘Woody’ was heading back to his hometown of Camperdown (a rural town in Victoria’s southwest region) for a few days and suggested I go with him.
We spent some time on a dairy farm, milking cows and experiencing what life is like outside of football.
I’m a city boy at heart and so it was a new experience for me, that’s for sure!
When I think about Woody and reflect on what he’s like as a person ahead of his 150th game this weekend, it is memories like that one which spring to mind.
He’s the type of person who loves to help other people experience new things and expand their horizons – it’s part of what makes him such a great leader.
If I think back to my first year at the club, Woody was one of the first people who approached me and made the effort to get to know me away from football.
I still remember going to a little café in Seddon called the ‘Sourdough Kitchen’ where, over a sandwich, he made the effort to get to know where I’d come from and a bit about my background.
He made me feel right at home at the Bulldogs and I knew I had a friend in him immediately. Right from the word go, Woody was hospitable.
From the outside, I think everyone can see how selfless Woody is but internally that perception is tenfold.
Sometimes there are moments throughout your football journey where you’re unsure about yourself, whether it’s form, confidence or other aspects that come with being an AFL player.
In those times, Woody is the type of person that you turn to.
Through his own experiences in the system and the earlier, formative parts of his career, he’s learnt a number of lessons which he hopes to instil into the younger boys coming through our club.
He takes it upon himself to help players find their feet within the confines of an AFL environment because it can be quite a confronting, challenging and new environment to enter into at 18-years-old.
It’s what makes him such a strong role model for the younger generations out there.
Over the course of the past couple of years we’ve become very close through our role in the leadership group.
Despite being captain for two years now and being interim captain in 2016, Woody has a desire to continue to learn and do what is best for the group.
Our previous skipper Bob Murphy left tough shoes for Woody to fill but such is his character, he’s embraced the challenge.
I’ve got a huge amount of respect for the way he goes about his football and his leadership.
When I talk about his selfless attitude, everything that encompasses his leadership comes to mind.
Our playing group is always his priority.
Away from the field, Woody is a unique individual.
He’s a Lego and Star Wars ’nuffie’ and a movie buff, too.
At 29, he still puts together Lego masterpieces similar to what you’d do at 10 or 11-years-old – he spends hours in his spare time building them!
With Woody, what you see is what you get.
Good luck in your 150th, Woody!