Facing his AFL mortality once was enough for Fremantle forward Brady Grey to know that he never wants to put himself in that position again.
And after signing a one-year deal at the end of last season, the 22-year-old knows the upcoming campaign could be pivotal to his career.
Grey was delisted at the end of 2016 before being thrown another chance as a rookie last season, which he grabbed with both hands.
The defensive small played 14 games and booted 10 goals for Freo in 2017, using his axing as motivation every time he played in purple.
“Getting delisted it obviously makes it a bit more revealing. I faced footy mortality and I didn’t really like the other side of it,” Grey said.
“So, every time I’m lacking motivation it’s certainly something that inspires me to keep going.
“It was really nice to be on the list (again after) getting delisted 12 months ago.
“Having the opportunity to pull on the guernsey again was something that I really cherish, every time I get to play in the Freo top, but I certainly wouldn’t say I’ve established myself.
“We’ve brought in 12 new guys, so it’s almost about proving yourself and getting that seat on the bus again.”
One of Fremantle’s recruits was former Gold Coast goalsneak Brandon Matera.
While the 101-game ex-Sun only adds to the competition for spots, Grey has turned Matera’s arrival into a positive.
“To be honest, I’ve been leeching off him and learning ways that he plays,” Grey said.
“He’s just got that X-factor around goals. Certainly watching on TV he always finds a way to kick a goal, and that’s really good for us.”
Despite undergoing more shoulder surgery at the end of 2017, Grey has improved his speed, power and, hopefully, durability via a tailor-made summer training program and his self-belief is at an all-time high.
The Burnie Dockers product has put his hand up to play AFLX and both JLT Community Series games, hoping to get a spot in Ross Lyon’s outfit and hold onto it.
“I’m in a really confident position that I’ve done the work and obviously it doesn’t account for results, but I will go in with a lot more confidence than what I have previously,” he said.
Fremantle were put through their paces in an intraclub match on Friday morning, with Stephen Hill, Hayden Ballantyne and Sean Darcy (calf) notable absentees.
Livewire forward Michael Walters and superstar Nat Fyfe were dominant in-tandem through midfield in the opening term before media were asked to leave, while top draftee Andrew Brayshaw found early possessions and looked composed.
Freo will also train at Optus Stadium on Saturday before their women’s team host Collingwood in the venue’s first football match.
The clash is a sell-out – with about 54,000 tickets snapped up – and Grey, an AFLW assistant coach, has tried to pass on as much experience as possible so Freo’s players aren’t overawed.
He also defended the women’s competition from criticism about low scoring across the opening round.
“I think it’s a teething process. The same conversation was happening last year,” Grey said.
“I’ve certainly noticed at our training that the skill level has improved and as the comp goes on this season we’ll see a lot more goals.”