AN INSPIRATIONAL chat with Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury last summer was the first step to Melbourne spearhead Christian Petracca carving out a career-best campaign in season 2020.
Petracca has revealed that he spoke with Pendlebury throughout pre-season, having also journeyed to the United States for a training program, in an effort to take his game to the next level this season.
The Demons midfielder has reaped the rewards of his planning, becoming one of the Brownlow Medal favourites this year after averaging 23.5 disposals and kicking 15 goals in a scintillating campaign.
"Over the off-season I went over to America and worked really hard on my game," Petracca said as part of the NAB Pathways Series.
"I've spoken with a lot of people over the last year or so. I sat down with Scott Pendlebury, who is someone I've really idolised growing up. He gave me a lot of advice. He told me to keep doing what I'm doing, keep trusting the work and to be patient.
"When you look back now on the year that I've had, you do really sort of have to trust the process and trust that everything happens for a reason. One day you will get your turn."
As part of the series, Petracca spoke about the pressures he needed to overcome after being recruited to Melbourne with the second selection in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft, saying that an improved season last year also provided a catalyst for further development in 2020.
"The expectations and the pressures that external people have on you at pick No.1 or No.2 is quite difficult … it's something that, as a young kid, you have to adjust quickly to," Petracca said.
"I did my ACL in my first year, so I was out for the full 12 months. But I look back now and I realise how important that year was for me to develop and grow as a person and to understand what it does take.
"There's been a massive wake-up call for me in terms of realising that if you actually dedicate your time and commitment to your job, then you're going to reap the rewards.
"It felt like last year was a really good development year for me in understanding who I was as a person and as a player. This year, I feel like I've taken it to another level."