AFTER a phone call with head coach Jade Rawlings towards the end of 2018, Tom McCaffrey knew he made the right choice in coming to the Casey Demons.
“I had a chat with Twiggy and [Head of Football] Garry O’Sullivan last year, about how Casey goes about things,” McCaffrey told Melbourne Media.
“About the facilities, about making the grand final, and how close the club is to the premiership, and what the plan for this season is.
“After the call, I never thought differently about going somewhere else.”
After starring for the Wondonga Raiders in the Ovens & Murray Football League last season, the 23-year-old wanted a greater footballing challenge.
The Demons were more than happy to provide him with his chance in the next stage of McCaffrey’s journey.
“I wanted to play a higher level of football,” McCaffrey said.
“[The VFL] is a higher standard, and I have seen a lot of blokes being picked up by AFL clubs from the VFL.”
In his short time with Casey, McCaffrey has already noticed a change in the quality of the on-field.
But also, the level of professionalism away from the field needed to make an impact in the VFL.
“It is another step up from country footy … bigger bodies, quicker players, more skillful,” McCaffrey said.
“There is more professionalism … more things away from the field about how to get your body ready to train and play on the weekend.
“But also, more professionalism about understanding what you can do and what you can’t do to help you play at your best.”
McCaffrey is already making an impact in the side, booting two goals against North Melbourne in the Round 2 victory, and playing well against the AFL Academy Australian Under 18s side at the MCG.
“It’s a tough league, but I am finding my feet,” McCaffrey said.
“I came in for Round 2, and thought I did well, after a tough loss against Box Hill, everyone came out firing … it showed on the scoreboard how we played.
“Then it was a great experience to play on the MCG for the first time against the best 25 young players in Australia … those players are going to be the future of the AFL.”
While his on-field performances continue to go from strength to strength, away for the field, McCaffrey is quickly acclimatising to the Melbourne lifestyle, and it's coffee.
“I always enjoy a good coffee, it’s much better than Sydney’s,” McCaffrey said laughingly.
Working as a teacher’s aid at a local high school, McCaffrey enjoys his role helping students with disabilities and behavioural issues with their learning
After growing up on Sydney beaches, McCaffrey is excited about the year ahead both on the field and enjoying the city.
“I’m a keen surfer, so getting to down to the peninsula is a good escape, getting out on the water, and relaxing,” McCaffrey said.
“But this season, I want to learn as much as I can from the coaches, improve my game … play as many games as I can.
“Casey is a great club … it’s a great bunch of blokes.”