To some, it’s simply a number on the back. In my case, it’s much more than that.
As many know, it’s been a tough run in the No.33. My four seasons have had their fair share of injury setbacks, and even my superstitious Italian family members have mentioned that perhaps the number is a cursed one for me.
But with a new season comes new beginnings and I’m pleased to write – much to my mother’s delight – that I’ve switched to the No.15.
So, how did the decision come about?
Well, despite my Italian roots, I’m not really superstitious.
After re-signing with the club in September, I was ready to begin a new chapter in life and footy. This meant moving out of home, having a strong off-season and beginning pre-season with new goals and a clear mind, so a new number entered my thoughts.
There were a few numbers available at the time and I had some preferences in mind, but I wasn’t too fussed. I simply liked the look of the No.15, so I put it on my wish list.
I first presented my case for a change to Matt O’Hanlon, who heads up the club’s football operations and compliance. Matt helped me with a proposal I sent to Dan Richardson and John Worsfold, which basically outlined that I was after a fresh start to align with my new perspective. Thankfully, they accepted.
Though there’s already been a bit of banter from the boys about switching from one of the high numbers, it’s all been in good fun. There’s a bit of a crew on my new side of the locker room, and I’m thrilled to be there next to ‘Rids’ (Jordan Ridley) and ‘Fridge’ (Josh Begley).
On the track, pre-season in the new number has started really well. I’m seeing the rewards of a big off-season, where I put a lot of work into my running and conditioning. Now that I’ve hit a stage where my body is in good nick, I need to keep it that way.
Looking back at my time in the No.33, I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. The setbacks have taught me resilience, while watching the boys win from the sidelines has made me want to be out there even more. When I’ve returned from injuries, it’s felt more meaningful because of how much work I’ve done to get there.
With all these learnings holding me in good stead for my new beginnings, it’s onwards and upwards in the No.15.
Essendon's full 2019 number reveal will take place at Family Day on Saturday.