Why i chose 34
Getting drafted was like reaching base camp of Mount Everest. There was so much more to achieve. To be a regular in the Eagles team, you’ve got to go to a whole new level again.
I took the lessons from playing for West Perth and my year at St Kilda, and implemented them at the Eagles. I understood the standards required, the training schedule, the requirements physically and mentally to be successful.
I knew that I wasn’t going to get another chance at AFL and needed to make this one work. I had to play with that concentration, that ruthlessness and desire to win. I wanted to make sure it would happen. I needed to bring that effort every day.
Playing my first game, in 2013, was special, of course, but then you want to play 10 and then 20, you want to be a real contributor rather than just being out there on the field. I think things have worked out pretty well since.
You always want more. But, from my current vantage point, I can speak with some satisfaction about what’s happened here at the Eagles.
I’ve played over 100 games for the club my family and I have always supported and won a premiership last year. This year I was offered a new contract.
When I started with the Eagles, I was offered numbers 22, 34, 41 and, I think, 45. Two is my favourite number, but there were players who’d been injured in number 22, so I passed on that. I was 43 at Saints and I thought I’d take 34 at West Coast. Same-same, but a bit different.
I knew I wasn’t going to get another chance at AFL and needed to make this one work. I had to play with that concentration, that ruthlessness and desire to win.
On the locker at West Coast, there were no 100-gamers or premiership players that had worn 34, so I decided I wanted to be the first player for the club to do both those things in that number. They were quiet goals that materialised.
It was never about proving Ross wrong, or anyone else. It was about proving to myself that I could play at the top level and giving myself the satisfaction of knowing I did everything I could to get there.
I’ve got doubters to this day. There are always going to be people who don’t think you belong or are good enough. But I don’t do it for them. Those doubts fuel me.
Football has been a big presence right throughout my life. I started playing AusKick when I was six. My Mum thought I might like it, took me down to the Girrawheen-Koondoola Pumas one Sunday morning and I loved it.
I had some older cousins who liked their footy and were Eagles fans. Mum and Dad are Eagles fans, too, so they were all influential in some way.
From then on, my desire was always to play footy as much and as well as I could. As you get older, you realise you can’t necessarily play for the team you barrack for.
But, as it turned out, I did get to play for the West Coast Eagles and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with the club so far. Life’s funny like that.