Big, bad boundary rider

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TV - DAR­REN DEV­LYN

RE­TIRE­MENT from foot­ball can have sud­den, de­bil­i­tat­ing con­se­quences. A le­gend of the game can awake one morn­ing to dis­cover the prime source of mo­ti­va­tion in his life is no longer there.

Gone is the adrenalin rush of com­pe­ti­tion, the dis­ci­pline re­quired to stick to a train­ing rou­tine, the fun in mix­ing with your mates all day, and the hefty pay cheque.

Barry Hall can un­der­stand why re­tire­ment can send a player into a down­ward emo­tional spi­ral. When the former St Kilda, Syd­ney and West­ern Bulldogs pow­er­house hung up the boots in 2011, he was trou­bled about what the fu­ture held.

“I went through a bit of a rut … what was my pur­pose, what am I get­ting out of bed for?” Hall says of ad­just­ing to re­tire­ment. “As a player there is al­ways some­thing to look for­ward to when you wake up – a train­ing ses­sion or a game.

“When I fin­ished I had no real drive to get up and get ac­tive.

“So I made my­self a pact that I’d get out of bed at 7.30 and do some­thing ac­tive and go to the gym.”

In a 15- year play­ing ca­reer, Hall was a gun for­ward and premier­ship player whose phys­i­cal ag­gres­sion made him, on oc­ca­sion, harder to han­dle than a bag of snakes.

It was no great sur­prise when, early last year, he an­nounced he was hav­ing a crack at pro­fes­sional box­ing.

On the eve of his first bout, how­ever, Hall dropped a bomb­shell – his post- footy life as a boxer was over be­fore it had even started.

There was shock Hall was turn­ing his back on a re­ported $ 500,000 pay­day, but his con­science told him it wouldn’t be right to climb into the ring if his heart wasn’t in it.

“It was a tough po­si­tion to be in be­cause a lot of peo­ple had put work in be­hind the scenes to make it hap­pen,” Hall says.

“It would have been easy to just have the one fight and take a big, fat pay cheque, but peo­ple pay money to see you fight and I think it would have been un­fair if I’d gone ahead with it.

“Deep down, I don’t know that I could have taken it [ box­ing] much fur­ther.”

In his new job at Fox Footy, Hall will show he has brains to match the brawn. The 35- year- old, who had a guest role on panel show AFL 360 last year, will in 2013 be a boundary rider and ap­pear across a range of other footy- re­lated pro­grams.

Hall con­fesses there were times as a player that he loathed the me­dia com­ments di­rected at him, but knows there is no place for him in TV if he’s afraid to speak his mind.

“As a player, I didn’t take it well at all,” Hall says of neg­a­tive com­ments and head­lines.

“It really used to give me the s---when peo­ple bagged me.

“But as I got older I be­gan to un­der­stand what the me­dia was say­ing, even if I didn’t agree with it.

“I have a lot to learn about TV and all I can do is call it as I see it. My nat­u­ral in­stinct will be to see things on the side of the player first.”

FOX FOOTY ( on Foxtel) will broad­cast ev­ery game of the AFL home and away sea­son live across Aus­tralia, with no ad breaks siren to siren.

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