Local lad Josh Schache can’t wait to pull on his Bulldogs jersey and prove all his doubters wrong on the footy field.
After two seasons playing for the Brisbane Lions, the 20-year-old key forward prospect came back to Victoria in September to be closer to his family in Seymour.
Despite having a good relationship with the Lions, Schache said living so far away from home was always difficult for him.
‘‘Growing up, I’ve been really close to my Mum and my sister since my Dad passed away when I was five,’’ he said.
‘‘We moved states when I was about eight or nine, and we’ve created a great environment around home in Seymour.
‘‘Living away from home was tough, because outside of the footy club I didn’t really have anyone I could go to.
‘‘But Brisbane were really good with that — they tried everything they could, and I couldn’t thank the club enough for what they’ve done for me and the family.’’
Part of the problem for Schache was that adding to the long distance separation from family and friends, the former number two draft pick faced relentless pressure from the media.
This meant Schache often had to choose between cutting himself off from his support network, or exposing himself to online criticism.
‘‘I used my phone to stay connected with my mates and family back here ... but I couldn’t use it for weeks due to the amount of scrutiny and the amount of people who have an opinion on you,’’ he said.
‘‘But with the experience I’ve had this year, I feel like I can look at it now and see it in a different way, so I know how to handle it a lot better and just sort of laugh at it, because no one’s going to think you’re perfect.
‘‘You’ve just got to listen to the people who really matter to you and who know you best.’’
With the trade sorted, Schache has his sights set on training hard during the pre-season and earning the respect of his new team-mates, because despite his reputation as a top draft pick, he said this counts for nothing once you’re in the AFL system.
‘‘Once you get into the AFL you’re just another player, and it’s what you do from there on out that defines you,’’ he said.
‘‘So I’m as motivated as ever to prove everyone wrong and get out there to be a part of something big and something successful at the Bulldogs.’’
In terms of his actual game, Schache has identified a handful of specific areas he wants to improve on — namely his one-on-one ability and his strength in the contest.
And while the former Lion said he is excited about the prospect of building a partnership with Tom Boyd, the number one draft pick in 2013, Schache said Bulldogs fans might be seeing him roam outside the forward line next season.
‘‘I think I might be moving around a bit more, so we can test that out during the pre-season,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve got my running back up to where it needs to be now, so that can add another string to my bow, because I can get up the ground and maybe into the ruck a bit more, which is exciting.’’
Schache will join other first-to-fourth-year Western Bulldogs players at the club’s opening training session tomorrow, with the rest of the team to return on November 20.