The 27 Series – Jack Scrimshaw

Twenty-seven Beaumaris players have graduated to the AFL, with six currently on league lists. As part of a series to celebrate some of the best talent to grace Banksia Reserve, Jonno Nash will chat to some of the Sharks’ best who went on to achieve their dreams. This is the third in the series.
Jack Scrimshaw played footy at the earliest opportunity. He loved it. There were big expectations placed on Jack ever since he commenced at under-9s at Beaumaris, given his father represented Hawthorn, while two of his uncles played for Richmond. But the 19-year-old is eager to forge his own path as he fights to become a regular senior player at the Gold Coast Suns.

Jonno Nash: It’s been hard-going in the NEAFL. There’s been a sprinkling of heavy losses in what’s been a difficult year. What’s the comp like? Is there a lot of depth? I can see you perhaps lining up on players that aren’t quite up to state league level.
Jack Scrimshaw: Yeah, it’s a bit like that. It’s hard with the NEAFL teams who aren’t affiliated with the AFL clubs. There are a few former AFL players running around for those teams, but usually most of them aren’t the best footballers, compared to AFL level. That’s probably why we enjoy coming up against the AFL sides like GWS, Sydney and Brisbane. But overall, it’s not a bad comp. We give ourselves a chance to win every week.

I’m sure you’re enjoying the Queensland winter as opposed to the chilly conditions in Victoria.
Yeah, it’s sunny every day and blue skies, so I can’t really complain with that. I went to the beach this morning, so I can’t picture myself doing that in Melbourne. 

What’s it like playing in a rugby-dominated city that couldn’t give a stuff about footy?
It’s different. It’s weird seeing all the stars like Tom Lynch and Steven May not even recognised down the street or anything. You’d think that if we were in Melbourne, they’d be stars.

Do you think they’d prefer the anonymity?   
I don’t know. I think they’d might like it. I’m not sure. But we haven’t experienced an environment like Melbourne, so it’s hard to say. But I don’t mind it. It’s quiet and you don’t get harassed.

And how’d your season going?
I’ve been tracking along pretty well in the last few weeks. I fractured my cheekbone earlier in the year, so spent two weeks out. That put me back a bit, but I’m just trying to find some form and hopefully I’ll be back in the (senior) side soon. I’m just chipping away.

What instructions have the coaches given you to get back into the senior side?
It’s about finding that form and getting my body right. We both know I can produce some pretty good footy when I can, but it’s just about getting that consistency and really earning my spot.

Take us back to when it all started at under-9s at Beaumaris.
Yeah, I got into the thick of it the earliest I could. I loved footy ever since. I always wanted to play AFL from a young age.

Like me, you didn’t taste the ultimate at Beauy.
No, we never won a flag at Beauy, but I won one playing with the team above us. I was in the under-12s, but jumped up to the under-13s and won one there. I captained the side in under-16s, which was good. I went to Mentone Grammar and then moved to Haileybury for year 11 and 12. 

I went to Caulfield Grammar and have developed a hatred for Haileybury.
It’s incredible how school footy can breed that rivalry between schools.

And Haileybury look like they’ve developed a very strong program.
Yeah, I haven’t been following it closely, but I heard that they’re producing a lot of talent and playing some good footy. It doesn’t help that Max King, a potential top 10 pick, has gone down with a knee. But they look like they’re still doing well without him.

That’s unlike you where you had overcome some significant injuries in your juniors too. As a bottom-ager at Dragons, you had to have hip surgery which disrupted your year. It was on the back of a glowing under-16 nationals campaign where you made the AIS Academy.
I had a bad hip impingement, so I got that out of the way. It was sort of an optional surgery where I could’ve put up with it, but I’d rather get it out of the way and not have it become a continual problem. I also had some battles with my foot with stress fractures and stress reactions. That was all as an under-17, but coming into my top-age year, I was basically injury-free. 

Heading into your final junior season, were you uncertain with how your body would cope?
There were some times when I had some thought about whether my body would hold up. I had belief that I‘d be right and play well and ultimately get to my dreams. I did have those negative thoughts cross my mind, but I was able to put them aside and focus.

While you might have been starved of premiership success with your teammates at Beauy, you were able to win a flag with the Sandringham Dragons. I always would’ve thought that when that final siren was blown that becoming TAC Cup premiers would be an unusual feeling. Sure, it’s great to win a flag, but I don’t think losing the final is going to be a player’s great regret. The focus is getting drafted. These clubs don’t measure success on premierships; it’s how many players make it onto AFL lists.
I certainly loved playing at Dragons. I had a lot of good mates in that side. I would have like to have played more games at Dragons. I ended up playing six or seven all up. It was just a great feeling to experience with your mates. We had a pretty talented side. It was just a really good feeling.

What’s the madness like a month before the draft. For someone like yourself who got taken pretty high, there must’ve been confidence that you’d become an AFL player, but there’s still a bit of uncertainty with where you’ll land. How did you handle this period?
I wasn’t too bad. I was pretty relaxed and excited to finally get drafted. I was happy with what I produced that year. It’s a complicated year, because you try and enjoy but you know there’s a lot on the line each game. But the greater goal was to keep building on each game so I had the building blocks to have a long and consistent career.

Your draft was held at Sydney. It’s quite fancy how they reveal the top 10 nowadays. How were you feeling heading into the event?
I was a bit nervous. I was sitting next to my parents. I had a bit of an idea of where I was going to be before the draft about where I was going to go, but then again, you’re not 100 per cent sure. Pick six came around for Carlton and I thought I was potentially going there, but had no idea. I knew Gold Coast or Fremantle were going to take after that. I was happy it was Gold Coast, but then I was just happy to get drafted.

There even is a bit of uncertainty at the draft. You hear a lot about guys getting picked up by teams they never had any dialogue with. 
I think it’s different. I think around the first round category it’s a bit different, but I think with the later picks, I’ve got mates that got picked up by team they never knew were interested in them. It’s weird how it works.

It was a talent-laden draft for the Suns that year. Ben Ainsworth (pick 4), Will Brodie (9) and Jack Bowes (10) are taken around you (pick 7). As challenging as it is for the club at the moment, you must be bullish about the team’s future.
Yeah, for sure. We’ve got a really good list. I think we will eventually mature and turn into a pretty good side. We’ve got some talent. I think we’ve got a fair bit of talent that’s pretty young. It’s just going to take some time. I reckon we will be a pretty good side in the future.

The injuries you overcame in your juniors would’ve built some resilience. You again had to tap into that well during your first preseason with a couple of problems.
Yeah, I pulled my hip flexor early on, so that pushed me back a little bit. But I was still able to play most games.

Did entering an AFL club meet your expectations?
I trained with Collingwood for a couple of weeks as part of the AFL Academy in 2015, so I sort of had an idea of what it was going to be like. I like doing hard work, which makes it easier. But that experience at Collingwood prepared me well. It is pretty full on and completely different to any other full-time job. Being completely immersed in footy and being a pro were things I enjoy doing, so it’s been a harmless transition.

Rocket Eade’s an unusual beast. Everyone’s either got a ripper Malcolm Blight or Rocket story. Do you have one?
Rocket was really good to me. He played with my dad, so he was a bit nice to me. He gave me the opportunity to play, so I’m really grateful what he did for me.

I was once in the Gold Coast rooms working. I must’ve been in there before a game. The players were getting ready and you could hear this voice barking intermittently. It was absurd. I later saw that it was Rocket. I thought he had tourettes (syndrome). 
Haha. Luckily in the four games I’ve played I didn’t see too much of that. But he does like to have a bit of a yell. He’s a real old fashion-type operator.

You just said you’ve played four games. How were you told that you were going to play your first AFL game?
Rocket came over and he said, “you’re playing this week” and it was a bit of a shock at first, but I sort of knew it was coming because the team wasn’t doing too well and I was playing well in the NEAFL. I had a bit of an indication from my backline coach and he said it could be a possibility in the next few weeks. It was a goof feeling, especially after all those injuries, overcoming them. It was good to make it … finally.

What was that like to share with your family and friends?
Incredible. Dad’s been a good supporter of me my whole life. He loved it the most probably. It was special to tell them.

What was the day like? From preparing on the day, doing the warm up, how were you feeling?
I was a little bit nervous, but pretty excited to experience it. I don’t think there were too many expectations of me to play well. I was just out there to play my role and get that experience. Playing in Carins at Cazaly Stadium, there wasn’t a big atmosphere. It was a bit different to what other boys have experienced. But to get out there and think, “this is actually happening” is pretty cool. But it was tough work.

You were one of five people to debut that season. How determined are you to become a regular player in the senior side?
I’m really driven. I’m frustrated I’m not playing at the moment to be honest. I know there are certain steps I need to take to be a consistent player at AFL level. I just need to stick to the process and hopefully it will come very soon. I’m looking forward to it hopefully becoming a possibility. 

Where do you hope to make your mark? I know you’ve got aspirations to play in the midfield. Is that still on the cards?
Yeah, I’ve been playing midfield in the NEAL. I don’t know where they want me to play, but I’m willing to play anywhere. I know if I got a game, it would probably be at halfback at this stage. In the future, I really want to be a midfielder and cement my spot there.

And what’s the aim for the rest of the year?
Just to get in the team and keep my spot. I just need to continue playing good footy and maintain that consistency.

You signed at the club till 2020. What prompted you to commit to the club long term?
I just saw a good future at the club and I’m enjoying my time here. All the other top 10 picks were signed too. It’s nice to get some security and time to develop and become a good footballer.

If you didn’t show promise in footy, what do you think you’d be doing?
Umm, I’m not too sure. I was pretty focused on footy, but I’d be studying. I’m picking up a marketing course at the moment. During school and stuff, my focus was playing footy. It’s probably not the greatest idea when your parents are telling you to have a plan b. 

Thanks for your time, Jack. All the best for the rest of the season and many more after that.
Thanks Jonno.