Bradley Hill watched Hawthorn lose a grand final from the stands, two years ago. He was still 18, he had been at the club for just nine months and he had played in only five games, so while he could see how disappointed his new teammates were, he couldn’t fully understand their despair. It wasn’t until this time last year that Hill appreciated exactly what winning would mean, even though he had no idea what he was in for.
“My mind didn’t know what to think. Even now I don’t really remember grand final week too well. I know the week went really quickly and it was weird because we were playing Fremantle and I had to play against my brother,” he said. “I didn’t really get to sit back and enjoy the week very much, and think about it a lot. I think it will be better this year because I’m used to it, I know what’s coming for us and I’ll enjoy it a lot more.”
Hill has a better sense of other things, too. When he played those first five games he just wanted to keep playing more of them. When he became a regular part of last year’s team he might have looked quick, cheeky and willing to take a risk, but he was still trying things on, working out what he was good at and finding ways to do those things. This year he has expected himself to do them much more often, to play with even more belief.
“I wanted to step up more as a player this year. I’m up to 50 games now, so I think I can go out there and be confident in myself and back myself to do more than I did when I was new in the team,” Hill said. “I think I know more about what my strengths are, and now I try to use my speed every time I can, to try and break the game open. I’ve got a lot more confidence in myself to just do that instead of thinking about it first like I was last year.
“I’m still the youngest one in the team but I try to act like I’m a bit older and like I know what I need to do. You’ve always got to do what the team needs you to do and the coaches here are always telling me they need me to take the game on and to run, and not care if I get caught because it’s what they want me to do.
“It was only my second year last year and I was only new in the team so I just wanted to stay in there and make sure I did all the simple things, but this year I’m feeling more confident and playing more like I did when I was younger, backing myself and always thinking that I can run faster than the other players around me.”
Hill was drafted to Hawthorn three years after his brother, Stephen, became a Fremantle player, which meant last year’s grand final couldn’t feel like a normal game no matter how many times he told himself it was. It made the lead-up feel a lot stranger than he suspects it will this year. Hill didn’t want his brother to lose, but he really wanted his team to win. He’s grateful it’s something he doesn’t have to worry about this time around.
“I wasn’t really too nervous about it, it was just really weird because one of us was going to lose and we knew it was going to be a sad day for one of us,” he said. “We spoke on the phone during the week about it, saying one of us was going to lose but one of us was going to have the best day ever and we knew that was fair enough and how it was going to be. But it will be a bit better this year with everyone on my side. I think it will help me relax a bit this week and look forward to the game even more.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.