I’ve also had the chance to act as a mentor in my own right. Towards the end of my time as a player, I made more of an effort to mentor some of the younger guys in the clubs. It was a way to contribute to the team when I wasn’t of much use physically any more. It’s a rewarding way to round off your career – to feel like you’re helping others in a small way before you leave.
One thing I learnt from the experience is that it’s entirely ineffective to mentor someone who has low ambition – even if they have a lot of talent. If you’re considering taking up a mentoring position, you’ll be drawn to people like that because the potential upside is so high. But, in my experience, I’ve found they end up being an energy vacuum.
Instead, I discovered that mentoring those who were ambitious and eager to learn was beneficial for everyone involved. While there’s definitely an argument that people with those personality traits are going to get where they need to go anyway, as a good mentor you can play a significant role in speeding up that process. That’s a rewarding feeling.
After my on-field career ended, I did some more organised mentoring with players from other clubs, which I really enjoyed. I spent 18 months catching up pretty regularly with Zach Merrett from Essendon. I think he found the time useful, and I certainly enjoyed it.