West Coast star Mark Hutchings says the moment Ross Lyon told him he was not good enough to play AFL was the day his career changed.
In a piece written for Players Voice, Hutchings recalled the moment Lyon cut the then-18-year-old from St Kilda’s list.
“I was still on crutches after surgery on both hips,” Hutchings said.
“The first words that came out of Ross Lyon’s mouth hit me like a ton of bricks.
“(He said) ‘look, it’s not great news’.”
Describing himself as “distraught” Hutchings said he moved back to Perth days later with an added motivation to get drafted again.
“As hard as it was, looking back now, I can say that I’m glad it happened,” Hutchings said.
“It was important because it made me realise that I wasn’t good enough at the time and needed to improve.”
The West Aussie said his decision to return to WAFL action for West Perth — and not his original team East Perth — ruffled a few feathers, but the brutality of Lyon’s decision showed Hutchings he needed to be cut-throat to survive.
“I’m a loyal person but I’d learnt that you need to make tough decisions sometimes to get what you want out of life and your career,” he said.
“I thought to myself that I couldn’t sulk and wallow around. I knew I had to move forward with energy.”
By the end of his second season with West Perth, Hutchings was taken by West Coast with pick 60 in the 2012 National Draft.
“Getting drafted was like reaching base camp of Mount Everest. To be a regular in the Eagles team, you’ve got to go to a whole new level again,” he said.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to get another chance at AFL and needed to make this one work. I had to play with that concentration, that ruthlessness and desire to win. I wanted to make sure it would happen. I needed to bring that effort every day.”
The now 28-year-old says he chose jumper 34 as a tribute to his short stint at St Kilda.
“I was 43 at Saints and I thought I’d take 34 at West Coast. Same-same but a bit different,’ he said.
“There are always going to be people who don’t think you belong or are good enough.
“But I don’t do it for them. Those doubts fuel me.”