Capable Campbell relishes competition

 Tom Campbell

 

When Tom Campbell entered the AFL system, it wasn’t as a fresh faced high school graduate but rather a big-bodied VFL ruckman who had exposure to the workforce and life outside of football – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rookie listed by the Western Bulldogs at age 21, the Bendigo Bombers recruit came to Whitten Oval as a ready-made power ruckman who was already accustomed to battling with bigger bodies in the VFL.

“I don’t see it as a disadvantage coming into the AFL system a little bit later,” Campbell said.

“I was able to go away and get a little bit of life experience, do some work and actually do some study and live life a little.”

Campbell said the late AFL start has also given him perspective of life outside of football and a greater appreciation for his time at the Bulldogs.

“AFL Footy is a bit of a bubble and sometimes it doesn’t seem like the real world, so to come in a bit later was good for me,” he said.

“I’ve had conversations about controlling what I can control, that is turning up every day to training and train my best and prepare myself to play the best footy possible.”

After playing seven senior games last season rotating through the forward line and ruck, Campbell will need to remain focussed in 2013 as he looks to add to his career games tally.

In a show of faith last year the 201cm ruckman was permanently elevated to the primary list — his next challenge will come when competing with Will Minson and Ayce Cordy for positions in the senior side.

Campbell hopes he can force his way into the side when form permits.

“When it comes down to it you get picked on merit – if you are playing good footy you’ll play senior footy, that’s what I love about this environment, you get rewarded when you perform,” he said.

While competition for spots will be fierce, Campbell said that the dynamic of the tight-knit group of ruckmen has been strengthened, despite increasing competition.

“The good thing about all the big guys – myself, Will Minson, Jordan Roughead, Ayce Cordy – we are all good mates and there’s a really supportive group… that are all trying to get the best out of each other,” he said.

“If we are all trying to better each other it is only going to better the team.

“Going out into every training session and not wanting to get beaten… it breeds high performance.”

This pre-season the 21-year-old has taken the opportunity to build his tank and running capacity to help him run out games at senior level, while also building on his craft work and skills.

Adopting first ruck duties against Collingwood and Fremantle during the Bulldogs NAB Cup campaign allowed him to put his new skills to practice and regain touch – and fuelled his passion to play senior football.

“It’s only been a couple of practice games but I do have more confidence going for the ball, and just confidence in myself with my skills.

“Having the ability to run out games a lot better and also being cleaner with my skills will improve me across the board.”

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