Axed North Melbourne Forward Drew Petrie is adamant that he can still make a difference at AFL level despite his age.
The number 34 will not act as a barrier for Petrie, who insists he still has the fire in the belly to strive for footy glory, so long it isn’t in the reserves.
The West Coast Eagles landed the 34-year-old in Monday’s NAB AFL Rookie Draft after ongoing discussions with Petrie through the past two months, going over what his role would entail.
“If it was purely just going to be a forward position over here, I doubt I would have come,” Petrie said.
“The club called at the end of the season. We had a lot of conversations through October/November about filling the ruck void over here.”
Petrie also claimed that it was as much a family decision as it was football.
“My wife was really happy. I’m here to do a job and to work, but my family is excited for the lifestyle opportunity over here,” he said.
Petrie kicked 428 goals among 316 appearances for the Kangaroos before being told by the club that he would be culled by the end of the season, along with teammates Brent Harvey, Nick Dal Santo and Michael Firrito.
In what was otherwise a colourful career at North Melbourne, Petrie’s 2016 form was below his usual average, finishing with 27 goals despite playing in every game.
“I understand why North Melbourne did what they did. Nobody can play forever,” Petrie said.
This makes the Eagles’ decision a little questionable, however Petrie believes playing in a different role in a new environment and having to work hard for his spot will help him regain his best form.
“The ruck is an element and something that I think will help me become a good player,” Petrie said.
“I’m a proud person and a competitive person. My aim is to play a lot of senior games here, but I’ve got to compete for that spot.
“I’ve just turned 34, and still got the fire, the want, the desire, and still believe I’ve got the ability to play.
“Generally I train every session and play every week. The confidence in my body is high.”
Petrie is not the only experienced player the Eagles have acquired in the off-season, with the Perth club gaining ex-Hawthorn captain Sam Mitchell for near nothing.
“Sam Mitchell is a great acquisition for this footy club. We are going to learn so much from him and from the other boys,” Petrie said.
“The age profile at West Coast is quite young, so they can bring in experienced guys like myself and Sam.”
A chart which was developed by BigFooty.com staff members this afternoon delivers some intriguing numbers ahead of the 2017 season.
The table was put together to rank every AFL list by age and experience, showing which teams are better-poised for a flag tilt next year.
North Melbourne were obvious sliders from a similar table which was developed at the beginning of 2016, given the departures of Harvey, Dal Santo, Petrie and Firrito. However, with the acquisitions of both Mitchell and Petrie, the West Coast Eagles now top the league as the most experienced club by both age and games played.
Despite now being the oldest club (by player age) in the country, their chance for a premiership has not dimmed in the slightest.
“I wouldn’t have done this kind of thing if I didn’t think the club wouldn’t be successful this year,” Petrie said.
“I’m fully aware of what the club’s plans are for the next 11 months. But I’m here to play for the 2017 season.
“Right now I’m here to train hard and to earn the respect of the players.”
In a new environment and with a change in lifestyle, West Coast will be the home away from home for Petrie given the subtle North Melbourne presence that will be there in his tenure.
Coach Adam Simpson and his assistant Brady Rawlings both played for North Melbourne in their careers and made the decision for Petrie to join somewhat easier.
“This is a business decision me being here. The faith that Simmo, Brady and Pratty have in me has given me confidence in the decision,” Petrie said.
While Nic Naitanui recovers from a knee reconstruction for the most part of 2017, you can see why the Eagles went after Petrie.
However, former Geelong ruckman Nathan Vardy also made his way over to the Eagles during the trade period. This means Vardy, Petrie, Lycett and Giles will all be vying for a spot in the ruck next season, looming to be a headache for the Eagles’ match committee.