On Saturday afternoon, the Sydney Swans will take on the Geelong Cats for the 2022 AFL Premiership. Swans defender Robbie Fox spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about his journey to achieve a lifelong dream.
Selected in the rookie draft six years ago, Fox has had quite the journey which included him getting delisted by the Sydney Swans at the end of the 2020 season. Not being uncontracted for long, Fox was picked up again ahead of the 2021 AFL season.
He has since built a great connection in the defending 50 with captain Dane Rampe and brothers Paddy and Tom McCartin. Cementing his spot in the starting 22, Fox is averaging 16.5 disposals, 5.5 marks and, 2.1 tackles per game this season.
The medium defender had a good game against the Collingwood Magpies last week in the Preliminary Final. Leading by more than 36 at one stage, the Pies nearly made the comeback of the decade coming within one point. However, they were unable to get past and defeat the Swans.
When talking about last week’s game, Fox said the nerves started to kick in near the end of the fourth quarter.
“I think it was 10 minutes to go. It [The nerves] started when they played some good footy and they were just going to throw everything at us,” Fox told The Inner Sanctum.
“We got the win which was great but there’s a lot of learnings to come out of the game, we’re going to review it hard and adjust a few things for Geelong this week.”
The Sydney defenders will be pushed to their limit this week going up against a versatile Geelong forward line. Not only has the lethal combination of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron proven difficult to defend, but it also consists of small and medium forwards like Tyson Stengle and Gary Rohan.
“At the moment how we’ve been playing, we will have a key defender on someone but then everyone else rotates around their forwards. So, it’s going to be a team effort,” Fox said.
Fourteen players in the red and white will be playing in their first Grand Final this weekend. Just like Fox, they will try and lean on the other eight players who have Grand Final experience. This includes Lance Franklin who will be making his sixth Grand Final appearance.
“It’s very important [to learn off the more experienced players]. We can talk to them about how they approach Grand Finals,” Fox exclaimed.
“Enjoy the week but try not to use all the energy up throughout the week and save some for Saturday.”
Both teams feature a wide range of experience in their lineup. With the pressure of it being a big game, the experienced players will need to lead by example. Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins will lead the Cats, while the Swans will look to Luke Parker and Dane Rampe to keep a calm composure.
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Only hours away, Fox still can’t believe he will be competing in a Grand Final. Especially with the year, he has had.
“It’s unreal. Having a home final was pretty amazing to start with and then to get the win. I’ve been soaking it up,” he said
Reminiscing about his past, Fox spoke to The Inner Sanctum about what he would normally do on Grand Final day.
“I can’t believe it. Every time there’s a Grand Final on, you go over to your mate’s house and watch the grannie and you think how cool would it be,” he said.
“I don’t think you could ever think it was ever going to happen.”
On a personal level, this Grand Final means everything to him. After a career-best season last year, he was diagnosed with a hamstring injury early this season. However, he valiantly fought back from injury and earned his spot in the team.
“It always goes through your head that I wouldn’t make it back in the team but I thought I was playing some pretty good VFL footy. I knew I was close so I was happy when I could get back into the team and it’s been great ever since,” Fox said.
Robbie Fox is hoping the Sydney Swans can complete their 2012 heroics and win the 2022 AFL Premiership. With a fully fit Fox assisting them in defence against a powerful Geelong forward line, it is going to make for a blockbuster game.
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