NOW IN his fourth year in the system, Cory Stockdale is building himself into a key member of the Casey Demons backlines with his stellar play in season 2019.
But the 22-year-old is not willing to rest on his laurels as he continues to push himself to play the best football of his career.
“I am a lot more mature this year than what I was last year,” Stockdale told Melbourne Media.
“You start to feel more confident with the way you play.
“But at the same time… I don’t want to get complacent with my spot.
“Because that is when I play my best football when I don’t get complacent with myself.”
After sitting out the 2017 season due to sustaining a serious shoulder injury, Stockdale was a key driving force in Casey’s run to the grand final last season but is playing even better football through the opening half of the 2019 season.
Stockdale credits the improvement in his game coming down to a better understanding of what is needed from his to add value to his team and help his teammates.
“Playing down back, something I have worked really hard on is to get my running game going,” Stockdale said.
“I have been working with [Casey assistant coach] Sam Radford about getting the fundamentals right… the real simple things, your spoiling, your body positioning.
“I feel like when I am running out of halfback, I really help the team get the ball moving, then the rest of the game comes to you.”
The results of Stockdale’s hard work are being seen on the field, earning his spot back into the side for the past six rounds and averaging 10.7 disposals on the season so far, including having one of his best games of the season against Collingwood in the Demons convincing win in Round 10.
Improving with every game of the year which Stockdale believes comes down to a better idea of what the expectations are to be successful playing VFL football.
“I understand it a lot more this year, you start to understand more of the game,” Stockdale said.
“The game starts to slow down a bit in your mind.
“You start to understand how important your recovery is… I think that is the difference between coming up for next week or being a little bit sore for the next game.”
Being a VFL footballer in 2019 requires a commitment to your craft which is beyond the training two nights of old, but Stockdale is willing to put in the hard yards to become the best footballer he can for Casey and his teammates.
“There definitely is no spare time that’s for sure,” Stockdale said.
“It’s not just going to training twice a week… You might go swimming or the gym on a Wednesday night.
“You’re willing to do that extra training.”
While all the work is starting to pay off, Stockdale still strives towards the goals he set himself before the season began.
“Just to get better every week, improve my fundamentals every week,” Stockdale said.
“Whether that means getting cleaner with my hands.
“Making sure your kicks are better.
“Making sure you’re hitting the right options, like going long or hitting the inside run.
“Just getting the fundamentals right.”
As he continues to build his game on the field, Stockdale is enjoying his life away from the field too.
An apprentice builder and carpenter, Stockdale loves his work and enjoys his time getting away in the brief amounts of free time he does get to enjoy.
“I am an apprentice builder and chippy… I love it,” Stockdale said.
“I really love what I do for work.
“But I like getting away to Marlo, which is East Gippsland way.
“I really like to go up there to relax… Go for a fish, go for a swim.
“But I really like playing footy.”
As he continues to build his game, and build his life around football, Casey fans are thrilled to see Stockdale and his number 49 running out of the Demons backlines to help his team to their next victory.