GWS Giants’ Rory Lobb on making the finals again and the taxing workload that goes into playing in the AFL. By Jack Kerr.


High achiever: Rory Lobb, 24, Australian rules footballer

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.


This week’s highlights…


Soccer: Matildas v Brazil

Saturday, 3pm, Pepper Stadium, Penrith, NSW

AFL: Semi-final – GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles

Saturday, 7.25pm (AEST), Spotless Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park

NRL: Semi-final – Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys

Saturday, 7.40pm (AEST), ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park

Tennis: Davis Cup World Group semi-finals – Australia v Belgium

Saturday, 11pm (AEST); Sunday, 10pm, Palais 12, Brussels, Belgium

Athletics: Sydney Marathon

Sunday, 7am (AEST), start Bradfield Park, Milsons Point

Motorsport: Sandown 500 – Supercars Championship, Race 19

Sunday, 1.15pm (AEST), Sandown Raceway, Melbourne

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 16, 2017 as "High achiever".

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Jack Kerr is a dual Australian Sports Commission Media Awards winner who writes about the business of sport.

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