Former Kybybolite junior footballer Jack Trengove still has a desire to continue his AFL career after being delisted by AFL club Melbourne after eight seasons.
Trengove, 26, was the AFL’s youngest ever captain when appointed in 2012 and was one of the league’s brightest stars before having his last four seasons curtailed by a serious foot injury.
Naracoorte Herald editor Lee Curnow caught up with Jack to find out if the AFL fire still burns within, and whether he thinks another club will be willing to give him a chance.
Jack, as a former club captain, number 2 draft pick and 86-game player over eight seasons, as well as representing Australia, you have achieved more than most could ever dream. Do you still think you have more to achieve in football?
As you say Lee, it was always my childhood dream to one day step foot out onto the MCG and play a game of AFL football. The fact that I can now say that I achieved my dream is something that I am extremely proud of. However, being the competitive person that I am, I am certainly not satisfied with that achievement.
I do honestly feel like I have more to give to football, and also feel like I am continuing to improve. Whether somebody else shares that view is the big question. The hunger is definitely still there!
You fought your way back from a serious foot injury to win a spot back in Melbourne’s AFL side for a brief time this season. Did you think you’d done enough to retain your spot on the list? Were you surprised to be delisted?
I am proud of the fact that I fought my way back to play AFL again after many people had written me off. Getting delisted was certainly disappointing, but at the same time I am realistic and could see that decision coming. When you continue to get overlooked for other players and cannot maintain your spot within the senior side, it generally means that something has to change.
I have no ill feeling towards the senior people at Melbourne for making that decision, it is a ruthless industry and I understood that when I first signed up to play
I have no ill feeling towards the senior people at Melbourne for making that decision, it is a ruthless industry and I understood that when I first signed up to play. After 8 years at the club, it was time for me to move on and seek a new challenge, of which I am extremely excited for.
You played some good football at VFL level this season and many thought you could have been returned to the AFL sooner. What was it like running around in the VFL knowing you were so close to an AFL recall?
The reason that you put yourself through the gruelling pre-seasons, and sacrifice the things that you do, is no doubt to play regular senior footy. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do that over the past two seasons which is frustrating. One thing that I have always aimed to do is to give my absolute all and commit to any task put in front of me. Whether that be at AFL level, VFL level, or country footy, it does not deter from me striving to be my absolute best. I would have loved to get an opportunity in the senior side earlier, however, it was not the case, so the only thing that I could control was to continue playing to the highest level that I possibly could. I felt as though I played consistently throughout the whole season and can proudly walk away from season 2017 knowing that I left nothing out there.
You played 79 games in your first four seasons in the AFL, but only seven games in the next four seasons including two this season. How frustrating has that been?
I was very fortunate to get exposed to senior AFL footy right from the start of my career which was a great challenge and a steep learning curve. The frustrating part came through injury, which was the first and virtually only issue that I have ever had with my body over the journey. Having the thing that you love ripped away from you for two years definitely hurt, however, it only made me more determined to get it back.
Throughout that time out of the game I learnt so much about myself as a person, which has given me skills and experiences that will only hold me in great stead into the future. I am definitely a ‘half glass full’ type of person and refuse to look back and think ‘what could have been’. As I said, I learnt things that I could never have dreamt of over the last four years and have indeed loved every second of that experience.
You became the AFL’s youngest ever captain aged 20 in 2012. Do you buy into recent speculation that the pressure of that appointment by then coach Mark Neeld had a negative impact on your playing career?
It is easy to reflect and judge past events in hindsight, however, I am a big believer that ‘everything happens for a reason’. Nobody knows what would have happened if I was not appointed captain going into my third season. At that point in time it was deemed that Jack Grimes and myself were the best people for the job, and being the people pleaser that I am, I jumped at the opportunity to lead the oldest club in the land. It was an absolute honour and something that I will take to my grave.
I would be kidding myself if I said that I had not dreamt of standing up on the podium on GF day receiving the premiership cup (just like the Kyby days) a few years after my appointment. That dream still exists and is the reason why I am so determined to get another opportunity. The question of whether it impacted my playing career negatively, who really knows? What I do know for sure is that the experiences that I gained throughout those years have shaped the person that I am today which I am truly grateful for.
Are you keen to continue your AFL career? What value do you think you can provide to an AFL club contemplating recruiting you? Are there things you can improve or work on to make yourself more valuable to a club?
The desire is certainly still there to play at the highest level and I will do everything in my power to get the absolute most out of myself. I would not be sitting here putting my hand up to play if I did not think that I was capable of positively influencing and fitting into an AFL side. It is too great a sacrifice and challenge to take on a full AFL season if you do not have the determination to do so.
Continuity with training is huge and I truly believe that if I can find that this year then my overall game can go to a new level
I have effectively still only completed one pre-season since 2012, which both excites me and gives me the belief that I can make some serious in-roads to my game going forward.
Continuity with training is huge and I truly believe that if I can find that this year then my overall game can go to a new level. I have now shown that my body can withstand the requirements and loads of an AFL player after not missing a game over the past two seasons. After all of that is said though, the decision from here is no longer in my power. While I am determined to get another crack, it has to be the right fit for both the potential club and myself. We will have to wait and see.
What is your next step towards finding a new club?
It is now a waiting game to see whether a club is willing to give me an opportunity. I am realistic and understand that positions on lists are scarce and that opportunities will be difficult to come by. However, what I can guarantee is that I will do everything within my powers to ensure that I would make the most of any opportunity thrown my way.
If the AFL is no longer an option, what is your plan B? Is marathon running on the cards alongside your Olympian sister Jess Trengove?
Whether it was a good thing or not can be argued, but the injury that I sustained back in 2012 forced me to look forward to a career beyond footy. I have always been extremely driven with my studies and understood that a professional football career only makes up the smallest of portions to your total working career. The fact that many people predicted that I would never return to run, let alone play the game, after my second bout of surgery, enabled me to look forward and consider what I wanted to do when my football career ended. I have now nearly completed my Bachelor of Business with a major of Banking and Finance, of which I am very passionate about.
The football industry has allowed be to strike up some great relationships with people from all walks of life. I have spent the last four years trying to discover what area of the financial industry that I want to jump into and pursue in my next chapter. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience and has allowed me to create a great network of contacts that I can now sit confidently knowing that I will be more than OK if my professional football career was to end. The thing that scares/excites me most is how the competitive nature within me transfers into the business world. I fear for my future work colleagues and their ability to contain my determination and thirst to win!
On the marathon front, I will never say no to any possibilities. If Jess had her wish I would be preparing for the upcoming Commonwealth Games alongside her and striving for gold. However, after our recent run where I happily pulled myself out at the 30 minute mark, I may have to put in some hard yards before being able to pound the pavement for 42km and still be able to stand at the end of it.
Your home club Kybybolite still hasn’t won an A grade premiership since 1974. What are the chances of Jack Trengove playing a role in breaking that drought in the (near) future?
Don’t tempt me Lee!! When I left Kyby after winning our fourth premiership in a row, Brads (Andrew Bradley), Chipper (Jack Kelly), Eddie (Tom Edwards) and I made a pact that we would return one day to play a game. I know for sure that all three of them are in the area and doing some incredible things themselves, but that dream certainly still exists for me to pull the Tigers jumper back on. The near future may be a bit premature, but you have my word that I will convince all of those guys to get back at some stage to play a game. Even if we are all busted up and can only sit in the square for the B Grade (although we would not be the first to have done that!!).