Tom Derickx ready to spread wings at Sydney Swans after shaking injuries
For most of the Swans playing in the pre-season challenge match in Canberra on Thursday, the aim will be to get reacquainted with team structures and build fitness.
For Tom Derickx it’s about much more than that. After three seasons at Richmond, in which he played just two senior games, the 26-year-old was delisted. The trade period had come and gone and the 201-centimetre ruckman’s anxiety about his future was growing. But, with Shane Mumford having departed for Greater Western Sydney and the Swans looking for an unheralded ruckman burning with desire, Derickx was given a dream opportunity.
”I’m still pinching myself, just running out there with [Jarrad] McVeigh, [Ryan] O’Keefe … It’s crazy. And there’s Buddy [Lance Franklin]. It’s crazy getting to chat to blokes like that,” Derickx said. ”They’ve all helped me settle in and feel welcome. As long as you buy into the Bloods culture, they’ll love you for it.”
It will be no love-in when the ball is bounced at Manuka Oval, as Derickx – one of 10 new Swans players named in John Longmire’s squad – looks to capitalise on an uninterrupted pre-season and continue to impress the Swans’ coaching staff. He will be competing with Sam Naismith and Toby Nankervis, who are also recent arrivals to the club, potentially for a round one spot against Mumford and to back up Mike Pyke, now clearly the club’s premier hit-out winner.
”It’s only [the NAB Challenge] but it’s definitely a big game for me,” Derickx said before flying to Canberra on Wednesday. ”There’s no doubt it’s a stepping stone to round one and to cementing a place in the side. It’s a big game but I’m confident in my fitness and confident in my ability. It’s probably the first full pre-season I’ve had since being drafted three years ago, with the injuries I’ve had. It’s exciting going into the NAB [Challenge] fit and after a full pre-season, and especially at a new club where I have a lot to prove. It’s a proud moment for me.
”I did a lot of learning over the past three years, but there was also a lot of disappointment. I was always on the back foot coming into every season because I missed a lot of time through injury. A fresh start is exactly what I needed, I think.”
Derickx had been hoping to be traded from Richmond, but the free agent period left him in limbo. He was confident he’d be picked up on a rookie contract, but admitted ”it’s still stressful not knowing your future”.
”During the trade period my manager was talking to Sydney a bit,” he said. ”But with the new free agent period that finishes after the trade period, they were in no rush to trade for me. So I just had to wait to become a free agent so I could come to the Swans for free. It was a long process. It was a pretty hard couple of weeks, to be honest, waiting to hear what would happen. I spoke to the Swans the first day after the trade week and again they said they were in no rush to sign anyone.
”Then, a couple of weeks later, talks started again. I came over for a meeting and they signed me up that day. My manager was talking to a few clubs about a rookie spot. But my aim was to be senior-listed somewhere, whether as a free agent or through the national draft, which was a week later. So it worked out really well for me.”
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