Justin Sheman doesn’t regret moving to the Bulldogs and feels well prepared now should he find a third club or should things not work out.JUSTIN Sherman can still remember his first trade period. It wasn’t too long ago. In fact it was just two years back that Sherman decided to leave the Brisbane Lions, considered an offer from Sydney then waited anxiously for his move to the Western Bulldogs to go through.
”It was a big decision for me to leave Brisbane, then waiting for the trade to happen was a pretty nervous time,” he said. ”At the time I can remember thinking that I didn’t want to go through something like that again. It feels like yesterday that I got there. It’s gone by pretty quickly.”
Sherman knew by the end of last season that he wouldn’t play for the Bulldogs again, despite having a year to run on his contract. He realised after a long chat with Brendan McCartney midway through the year that he needed to become a more consistent person and player to get a run in the new coach’s team and, despite finishing in what he felt was much stronger form, suspected his time was up before a second conversation when the season ended. This time there were no nibbles during trade month, making it an entirely different experience.
”I was hoping something would happen, but there wasn’t really any interest out there. I think clubs were set in their ways and knew what they wanted, and that’s fine. It was a different sort of thing to go through this year but I made sure I was concentrating on other things and I’m looking forward to the pre-season draft now,” Sherman said. ”I haven’t counted myself out. I’m hopeful, I think that’s the right word. I know that I still have a lot more to offer.”
Sherman was 23 when he became a Bulldog, bringing some pace and flair to a team that had just played off in the finals and lost Jarrod Harbrow to the Gold Coast.
He played 14 games last year, a season interrupted by a suspension for racial abuse that his new teammates helped him confront, move on and learn from, but just 10 this season as McCartney asked him to work on the defensive side of his game and his day-to-day consistency.
”We had a good heart-to-heart in the middle of the year and I understood where I needed to get better,” he said. ”I knew I hadn’t lived up to the club’s expectations and my expectations, but I kept plodding away at Williamstown and in the last four or five games I felt I started to string together some good, consistent performances. I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and have some confidence in myself again. I’ve always prided myself on my professionalism, but I had a lot to learn about how to be a professional footy player day in, day out.
”You’ve got to do everything that’s asked and even go beyond that now. I know what I put out there wasn’t good enough. I deserved a kick in the backside and that’s what’s made me see the bigger picture.
”I know what went wrong. I’ve learnt to be a more consistent footy player and that’s what I want to keep learning to be.”
Sherman was disappointed that, after working his way into some better form, his time was considered up anyway.
But he doesn’t regret moving to the Bulldogs and feels well prepared now should he find a third club or should things not work out. He has been back training for about a month and will start working with Williamstown in the next week or two. If an AFL club doesn’t draft him he wants to play VFL next year, ”because I think a lot of clubs want to see me play consistently for a whole year”, and have another go this time next year.
He has plans to launch a personal training business soon and is well settled in Melbourne, where his parents have moved in the past year. ”It hasn’t worked out at the Bulldogs but I’m grateful to the club and everyone there. I’m disappointed with what I dished up, but there’s no point beating myself up about it now. Hopefully another club will see something in me, but if that’s meant to be it will happen, I can’t control that now,” he said.
”I’d love to have another go and give it one last crack. I’m fit and healthy and motivated to keep playing, but if it doesn’t happen then I’m ready for the next phase of my life. I’ve got some qualifications, it’s time to use them and the main thing is I’m happy. I have something to fall back on, I’ve set myself up in the past five or six weeks and I’m at ease about that, but I know that if I’m lucky enough to get another opportunity, I’m good to go and ready to make the most of it.”
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