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Growing up just north of the CBD, Trent Cotchin is a born and bred Melburnian. Since joining the Richmond Tigers in 2007, he’s been appointed the team’s youngest full-time captain (at just under 23 years old) and led the team to win two premierships.
Trent has overcome injuries and defied critics to become one of the game’s most respected players. Now the father of three is about to embark on what will likely be his most challenging season yet.
Before the 2020 kick-off, we had a chance to find out what goes into making a Tigers player and what we can expect from Trent and the rest of the team this season.
The Check Up (TCU): You grew up in the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne and your entire professional career has been played with the one club. What does it mean to play for a club you grew up watching?
Trent: It has been a fantastic experience; I did not realise how big an AFL club was until I came into Richmond. But the best experience has been improving year on year and ultimately winning a couple of premierships and just seeing how much it means to everybody. The impact we can have on peoples’ lives is huge and I’m very grateful to be able to bring this joy to so many people.
TCU: What are some of the characteristics that make up a Tigers player?
Trent: We like our players to be humble, but also hungry to grow and get better with each day. It’s also important for us to show care and love for each other and I think this is one of our key strengths as a playing group.
TCU: You’ve had your fair share of injuries. How do you bounce back physically? Do you have a support team of health professionals? If so, can you please chat us through some of them and how they help get you back in condition?
Trent: From a physical perspective, I have a competitive streak in me, so that’s the main driver to get myself back in peak physical condition. Our physical and medical staff at the club are first class and really help us to avoid and overcome injuries.
From a mental side, it’s important to control what you can. Last year, I had some ongoing hamstring injuries, and it was important for me to maintain perspective and gratitude. I tried not to worry about the things outside of my control, and focus on building good habits to get myself fit again.
TCU: You’re a dad to three children under the age of six. What skills, lessons or traits are important for you to instil in your kids?
Trent: Being a parent is certainly challenging and there’s no rule book to follow. My wife and I try to instil gratitude to our children each night, talking about what went well in their day and what they are looking forward to tomorrow. We really try to have our kids focus on what they do have, rather than what we don’t have.
TCU: How has your game changed since becoming a dad and dealing with things like sleepless nights and mental exhaustion? How do you combat these challenges?
Trent: We are very lucky that our children have all been good sleepers! That being said, we have had some challenges with hospital visits and the like, which can make things challenging. We find it just helps to talk to people about the challenges we face, which certainly helps to put things into perspective.
TCU: What’s your go-to pregame meal or ritual?
Trent: I love to have a green chicken curry the night before each match. And then eggs on toast the morning of a game. I can’t wait for fish and chips again once I’ve finished playing!
Related: The Check Up recipe series
TCU: You’ve said that one thing you encourage as a leader is the importance of owning something. “It’s about finding your niche, finding your moment and performing to your strengths.” What are some of your strengths and niches as a leader?
Trent: I would like to think that one of my key strengths is the empathy and care that I have for my teammates. It’s important to understand that all of us have been on a different journey, and we each arrive here differently. I’ve certainly learnt this over time, as it wasn’t one of my greatest strengths as a young player.
We like our players to be humble, but also hungry to grow and get better with each day.
TCU: You’re one of the longest-serving captains in AFL history. How important is experience when it comes to working together as a team and what can this maturity bring?
Trent: Experience obviously plays an important role in your development as a leader. It’s important to acknowledge that everybody is different. I remember when I first became captain I tried to emulate the great captains in the AFL like Luke Hodge, Matthew Pavlich and Nick Riewoldt. But I soon learnt that you need to develop your own leadership style.
TCU: Millions of Aussies are impacted by the recent COVID-19 social isolations and restrictions. How has this affected the team? How have you all overcome the challenges? How do you think it will impact the way you play this year?
Trent: It’s certainly been a challenging period for everybody. As a football club, one of our key strengths is our connection as a group. So it’s been difficult to maintain that connection without being able to see each other in person. So there has certainly been lots of Zoom meetings to keep the group as well connected as we could. It’s been so exciting to come back and train as a team and we think this will hold us in good stead for the season.
TCU: What would your fairy-tale season look like this year?
Trent: Hopefully winning another premiership with my teammates!
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