A few clubs had a look at me and then my manager got me a try-out with West Coast in Melbourne, just to show them that I was serious about this. From that, they decided to fly me over to Perth for a two-day experience.
From the second I set foot inside that club, I knew it was where I wanted to be.
The Eagles had me join in training sessions and I was sitting in on team meetings, but what really stood out, was the team culture.
With some of the other AFL clubs that trialled me, I just never had the same connection that I did with everyone at the Eagles. All the boys got right around me and made me feel like I’d been a part of things for years. That really left an impression on me.
I also spoke to the coach, Adam Simpson, a few times. He really believes I have a future in the sport.
I had this incredible desire to play in the AFL and I refused to give up. I wanted to prove to everyone and myself that I was good enough and that I could reach the highest level.
When I got back to Melbourne, the list manager, Brady Rawlings, called me. He said joining the Eagles could become a reality if I wanted to do it. The draft wasn’t really an option though, because I hadn’t been playing competitive footy. The offer was to come on as a Category B rookie.
It’s high-risk and high-reward. If things go well, the Eagles can sign me as a full-time player. But if I’m not up to scratch, it’s easy for them to delist me.
Brady said the ball was in my court. But for me, it was an easy decision.
It will be a pretty cut-throat way to begin my career, but that just motivates me more. It’s up to me to earn a place in the senior squad and prove that Brady and Adam have made the right decision believing in me.
I’m going to give it everything because I love this sport and I truly believe I can be a big asset for West Coast in the future.
WHAT I’LL MISS MOST ABOUT BASKETBALL
The hardest part of switching to AFL was leaving the Melbourne Tigers. It’s a tight-knit community that my family has been a big part of for three generations now.
My grandfather was the first Bines to join the club, back when it was still called Church in the 1940s. He is my biggest inspiration.
It didn’t matter where I was playing as a junior, whether it was a school game or an international, he would be there. As an 80-year-old man, he even flew to Spain to watch me play at the under-17s World Cup. Looking over to the sideline and seeing him there meant a lot to me because all I ever wanted was to make him proud.
I wish he was still here to guide me through this big change. I’m sure that if he was around, he’d be telling me to give this AFL chance a red-hot crack.
Grandad passed away earlier this year and losing him really rocked our family, as well as the whole Melbourne basketball community. The way the club rallied around us at that time was incredible. That’s what the Tigers are all about and that support is what I’ll miss most.
Everyone had known I was training with footy, but it was another thing for me to announce that I’d signed a contract with West Coast.
I told my family first. They were all very supportive of my decision and this wouldn’t be possible without them.
Then I had to get in touch with everyone at the Tigers and Caulfield Grammar School, who have helped me over the years. I wanted to explain my decision and thank them.
From the Tigers, I spoke to Andrew and Lindsay Gaze as well as Chris Anstey, who are all legends of the club. But the hardest conversation I had was with my coach from last year, Nick Abdicevic.
Nick had coached me since I was boy and without his guidance I would never have been able to represent Australia I don’t think.
Calling him nearly brought me to tears but he was so excited for me. There was no bad blood and he just told me to train like I had always done with him and give it my everything.
Nick said, ‘You’ll be successful, I know you will’.
That meant a lot.
MY AFL PLAN
I’m quite agile and athletic for someone that’s 6’6’ and I see myself as a key forward that’s able to get in there, take important marks and kick goals. I’ll be learning off the best in the AFL as well, with Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy at the Eagles.
I’m trying to improve all aspects of my game. A lot of the skills from basketball are transferrable but one of the big differences I’m getting used to is the 360 degrees of contact and being strong in marking contests.
I like the physicality, though. If you get hit behind the ball in basketball, there’s not much you can do but in footy, you can make sure you crunch your opponent with the next tackle. Drew Petrie, who’s the development coach for the Eagles now, has been helping me with my tackling technique as well.
I’m putting in the hard work and the club are really looking after me while I’m still in Melbourne training. Dylan Powell is my coach and they’ve got a couple of physios taking care of me as well.
These AFL clubs have the resources to make you the best athlete you can be and with my height and athleticism, I think I’ve got a lot to offer as well.
I just wish November wasn’t so far away. That’s when I’ll be joining the Eagles for pre-season in Perth and this great, big adventure will truly begin.
This time, I won’t take the opportunity for granted and I’ll give it 110 per cent. I’ll make everyone that’s invested me in proud and I’ll shock all those who have doubted me.
I can’t wait to join this great club and I want to add to its proud history. I know it’s early, but I’ve set my sights on winning a premiership with the Eagles one day.