Pre-season draft supplemental selection Lachlan Bramble has made a significant impact in his first season at Hawthorn. AFLPA Digital Manager Ben Guthrie chats to the young Hawk about the path he has taken to the top level and why you should never give up on your dreams.
Ben Guthrie: Thanks for joining me for this chat, Lach. Is it true that the last game you played before signing on with Box Hill’s VFL side at the start of this year was for the Sunbury Lions in the Ballarat Football League in 2019?
Lachlan Bramble: You’re right Benny. We both played in that elimination final against Melton at the end of 2019. With COVID, I didn’t get the chance to play footy at all last year for obvious reasons. It was a weird season for footy that’s for sure.
I remember handing you the ball on the wing and watching you burn down the wing in that game at Darley Park. How does local football compare to playing at AFL level for the Hawks?
It’s obviously a lot faster and there’s a fair bit more to it. I’m really enjoying it at the moment and want to keep improving as much as I can.
Why did you decide to sign with Box Hill at the start of this year after committing to Williamstown for 2020, with the season ultimately not going ahead?
Well, it was sort of part of the talks when I agreed to sign with Box Hill. ‘Collo’ (Hawthorn assistant Andrew Collins and former Williamstown coach) said to me that there could be more than just VFL opportunities at Box Hill if you commit to it and he thought that Hawthorn might have needed a player like me and that it was a good opportunity to come across and try to earn a spot on the senior list.
Andrew Collins coached you when you were with Williamstown’s VFL program, correct?
Yep, Collo’s been a big influence for me and I’m really thankful he saw something in me and convinced me to have a crack at Box Hill.
“The one thing I’ll take away from it is to never give up on your dreams. If you’ve got aspirations of playing AFL then you should just chase it.” – Lachlan bramble
I imagine Sam Mitchell has had a major influence on you as well…
When I rocked up there, he was great straight away for me. His knowledge is unbelievable. He’s really urged me to back myself and reminded me that I’ve got a lot of traits to offer at AFL level. I can’t thank him enough. Without him I probably wouldn’t have ended up at Hawthorn, but he’s been great for me. He’s supported me, but helped me understand that I’m good enough and just given me that confidence to go out and do what I do.
You missed out on being drafted out of the Calder Cannons when you were first draft eligible in 2016. How did you put aside that disappointment and what were your aims when you signed with Williamstown in the VFL for the 2017 season?
In a way I sort of thought the opportunity to play AFL was over because I knew how hard the road would be going through the VFL system. It wasn’t a huge thing back then where heaps of blokes got those kinds of opportunities to go from playing VFL to AFL. At the time, I thought it was over and I’d just have to give the VFL a crack and hopefully do my best there. I probably struggled for consistency when I first got there. I felt like my body shape wasn’t quite up to it. It was tough because I went from playing against guys my age, straight into playing football against men. I found that transition pretty hard so I just had to work on my body shape and try to be more consistent on game day.
So you were on Williamstown’s list for a couple of seasons before you decided to go back and play local footy with Sunbury in 2019. What was the inspiration behind that decision?
It was a real mental freshen up when I went back to Sunbury for a year. I felt like I had it in me to play at the highest level, but I almost felt like I was trying too hard to make it happen. But going back there (to local footy) and playing well every week gave me that feeling that maybe I should go back to the VFL and give it another crack. That was one of my strengths (run and carry) and being able to use that more often at local level gave me some good confidence and when I did go back to the VFL it really helped me because I was able to concentrate on playing to my strengths and doing those things well.
I remember there were a lot of people encouraging you to have another go in the VFL, myself included!
Yeah there were and I can’t thank those people enough for the confidence they had in me. My Dad, Jamie, and ‘Collo’ (Andrew Collins) were a couple of those people who really helped me realise I had it in me to give VFL footy another go.
You were an apprentice electrician before you were signed by Hawthorn at the start of this year. How tricky was that to balance your job and continue to work hard to put yourself in that position of one day being drafted?
It was pretty tough getting up really early, working all day on the tools and then trying to get yourself up to travel a fair way to training then getting through the session and travelling home. It feels like that routine is one repeat over the week.
What has your football experience taught you?
The one thing I’ll take away from it is to never give up on your dreams. If you’ve got aspirations of playing AFL then you should just chase it. That’s one thing that’s stuck in my head the whole time. If you do the hard yards and try to chase what you think you can achieve, at the end of the day, you can probably get there.
You made your AFL debut against Essendon in Launceston in round 14, but if not for a hamstring injury in the VFL in April it was going to be far sooner. How frustrating was the timing of that injury?
When I did my hamstring in the VFL I had the sense that I was going to play the following week or, if not then, the week after. It was right around the corner of an AFL debut for me and to get injured was really shattering. I didn’t really know the process behind it either because I haven’t been injury prone throughout my career, so when I got told that it was going to be a 6-7 week injury it really hurt but it also gave me time to reflect and get stuck into the weights.
You’re often back at Sunbury supporting your mates (when crowds are permitted), sometimes even on the day/night you’re playing for the Hawks! Fair commitment from you…
It helps me relax a little bit more because it helps take my mind off my footy by being able to watch my mates play. I just feel like it helps me a lot rather than sitting at home and being anxious about the game ahead.
Thanks for the chat, Lach. You’ve made a great start to your AFL career and it’s great to see you getting rewarded for your hard work.
Cheers Benny. Anytime.