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Bayley cheers Plapp for guidance

Matt Burgan  December 15, 2017 4:10 PM

Bailey Fritsch's Arrival We chat to Bailey Fritsch about his transition from the Casey Demons to the Melbourne Football Club.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Plappy, especially my first couple of years at Casey, where I had heaps of injuries with my back and knee

BAYLEY Fritsch has lauded the influence of former Casey Demons coach and now Melbourne coaching panel member Justin Plapp.

Fritsch said Plapp had played a major part in his development, which led him to being selected by Melbourne at No.31 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Plappy, especially my first couple of years at Casey, where I had heaps of injuries with my back and knee,” he told melbournefc.com.au.  

“Probably him being through injuries in his career helped me a lot – he was telling me there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“He said to just keep ticking off all of your rehab, as professional as you can and do everything right – on and off the field. Plappy was right – there was light at the end of the tunnel and I wouldn’t have changed anything now.

“I can’t be thankful enough for what he’s done for me as a person and what he’s done for Casey – he’s really put the club in a really good spot and Jade [Rawlings] is just going to take it from there.”

Fritsch said his transition to Melbourne had been made smoother, given he played with many of them at Casey Demons.

“Coming from Casey, it’s probably been a little bit easier [for me] than the other draftees [because I] played with [a lot] of them last year,” he said.

“Everyone has been really welcoming and I’m just loving my time.

“I’m so happy I’ve got the opportunity from Melbourne.”

Although Fritsch had a connection with Melbourne, he hadn’t spoken to the club since the middle of the year about his draft prospects.

“I really wasn’t too sure [if I would be drafted by Melbourne]. I was hopeful … but I was really happy when I heard Melbourne called my name out,” he said.

Hailing from Coldstream, Fritsch was invited to train with Casey at the end of the 2015 season and he made the list for 2016. After a couple of injury-interrupted years, he got “a clear run at it” entering 2017.

And his dedication to the cause was evident.

He would wake up at 5.15am each day and sometimes not return home until 10:30pm, as he worked as an electrician during the day and then train at Casey in the evening.

But it was all worth it, as Fritsch won the Fothergill-Round Medal for the VFL’s best young player in 2017 and represented the VFL against WA.

“It went from there and I kept building on my game throughout this year and then I can’t believe where I am today to be honest,” he said.

“I’m taking it day-by-day at the moment to be honest. I’m just trying to build relationships with all of the players and coaches, and trying to get the best out of myself, on and off the training track.

“I might set some goals closer to the end of pre-season.”

Fritsch said the chance to wear No.31 jumper was not lost on him.

“It’s a pretty famous number for the club, so I’ll try and do it proud,” he said.

“It definitely means a lot. The club must think a little bit of me and I was very happy when I found out I had that number.

“Ron Barassi is a legend of the game, so I can’t be thankful enough of that.”