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Rory Lobb, 24, Aus­tralian rules foot­baller GWS Gi­ants

It’s hard in the work­force, but I feel like play­ing footy is a lot harder. Peo­ple don’t re­alise how much we put our bod­ies through, es­pe­cially in the pre-sea­son, head­ing into round one. It’s very tax­ing, it’s a lot of work. It’s a very hard job to do. It’s a lot harder than labour­ing, which I was do­ing, it’s a lot harder than that on your body.

I got bul­lied and left school at 14 and went into the work­force. I was work­ing away, in Tom Price, build­ing houses for the min­ers. So I was do­ing paint­ing, labour­ing, ma­chine op­er­at­ing, that sort of stuff. I was work­ing away, do­ing all that. I was ac­tu­ally land­scap­ing be­fore I got into the footy world. Life af­ter footy, I’m all for go­ing back to do­ing that. But ob­vi­ously while I’m here, I want to get the most out of my­self at this club.

Peo­ple don’t re­alise how much goes into just play­ing on the weekend. One hun­dred and 20 min­utes or what­ever it is for a game, we spend all week pre­par­ing for that. Train­ing nearly ev­ery day. There’s a lot of time that goes into analysing the game and the op­po­si­tion to­wards the end of the week. Most boys would pre­fer to be out there with a footy than sit­ting in meet­ing rooms do­ing anal­y­sis, but you’ve got to find that bal­ance of be­ing able to un­der­stand meet­ings, do­ing all that anal­y­sis, and go­ing out there and do­ing the right thing when you’re on the field.

I wasn’t very big grow­ing up. I was pretty tall, but not overly tall. I sort of grew late, and got as tall as I am now [207 cen­time­tres] af­ter I was 18. I was still grow­ing last year. I might have even grown a lit­tle bit more this year, be­cause I stood next to [210-cen­time­tre team­mate] Daw­son Simp­son the other day and we seemed like the same height now. I doubt I’ve grown, but you don’t know.

Every­one likes to men­tion your height. You go out to a cafe and some­one will men­tion it. Ev­ery time you’re pay­ing for some­thing, they just want to start a lit­tle con­ver­sa­tion about your height. I’ve pretty much had the same con­ver­sa­tion with dif­fer­ent peo­ple ev­ery day, the same con­ver­sa­tion. It’s en­ter­tain­ing. You get to meet other peo­ple. Every­one’s just so sur­prised. I al­ways get the ex­tra leg room when we fly. I’d strug­gle in a nor­mal seat. We don’t have any­one from Syd­ney in the team. Every­one’s come from dif­fer­ent places. A lot of the boys are around the same age, and we’ve grown up to­gether, and be­cause no one is from Syd­ney, we hang out to­gether in our free time. So we ba­si­cally are all pretty good friends. If you’re play­ing in your home state, you’d still be hang­ing out with your friends from school and all that, but we don’t have that lux­ury. So we’re al­ways hang­ing out to­gether in our spare time, and I think that helps us bond.

When you’ve got peo­ple writ­ing [nasty] stuff about you [on so­cial me­dia], you’ve got to block it out. You’ve got to back your own abil­ity. Twit­ter’s the one where they can go at you. I have it, but I don’t go on it. I’ve never got into it. I use Instagram and Face­book. We’re also shielded from ev­ery­thing a bit up here in Syd­ney.

Try­ing to break into this team in the early part of my ca­reer [was the big­gest hur­dle I’ve had to get over]. I played two games in my first year, which I was lucky enough to do. In my sec­ond year, I played nine games, but didn’t re­ally feel like I had an im­pact on the field. I went away, worked hard and came back, and last year was my break­out year. I played ev­ery game last year. This year I’ve had a few hic­cups. But my body is feel­ing re­ally good now and ready for fi­nals. I’ve had to work hard to get my spot and to hold it, be­cause we’ve got such a good group to play with. Every­one’s re­ally tal­ented and works hard.

We’ve worked hard for the past few years, and we’re start­ing to see the re­sult of that. We’ve made top four again this year, and we’re hop­ing to go a bit bet­ter than last year. We pretty much moved on straight away [from last year’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal loss to the West­ern Bull­dogs]. Ob­vi­ously we went away and re­viewed it. But this is another sea­son, and we’ve been pre­par­ing for this fi­nals se­ries. You al­ways aim for that top-four fin­ish, and we got there, got that

• dou­ble chance. We’re look­ing for­ward to it.

JACK KERR is a jour­nal­ist and doc­u­men­tary maker.

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