Late-career switch paying off for Patfull
AFL: Joel Patfull's gamble is so far paying off.
In need of a change of scenery, the two-time Brisbane Lions best and fairest winner joined the GWS Giants at the end of 2014.
"It probably was a bit of a risk for me coming down here at 30 and trying to get a game with all these younger players," he told Australian Regional Media.
"But the way it's worked out has all been pretty good."
The 218-gamer will play his first final in seven years when the Giants contest an all-Sydney qualifier at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night.
The last was when his Lions were beaten in a semi-final by the Bulldogs.
"We were talking about it the other day actually ... Griff (former Dog and now GWS teammate Ryan Griffen) was in that game too," Patfull said.
In the twilight of his career, Patfull has become an integral part of the Giants' defence, bringing much-needed experience alongside Heath Shaw.
"I try to pass on a little bit of knowledge. But the way the kids are going they don't really need much of my help at the moment," he said with a laugh.
Like the rest of the competition, Patfull has been in awe of Nick Haynes, Nathan Wilson and Zac Williams off halfback.
He admits he knew "absolutely nothing" about them before arriving.
"When I rocked up they (the coaching staff) were obviously talking them up and saying how good they were, but I think until you play a bit of footy with them, you don't know," he said.
"Zac Williams, the way he's been playing this year, is amazing really. He's one of the better players that I've seen come through with the way he attacks and takes the game on."
Patfull says the entire list has impressed him with its professionalism in its fifth season in the competition.
"They've had some pretty tough times but they've all learnt the right way, how to train and how to prepare," he said.
While Williams and co were an unknown to him, Patfull says fellow veteran and Collingwood premiership player Shaw is exactly what he expected.
"He's pretty vocal," he said. "You need guys like that. At the Lions we had Jed Adcock. He's got a similar personality and is similarly vocal.
"For our group, a few of those young guys tend to float every now and then, and not really switch on, so to have a player like Heath who is always thinking, positioning everyone throughout a game, is really handy."
Patfull was originally swapped by the Lions for pick 21 in the 2014 national draft - which incidentally was on-traded twice, to Geelong (for Allen Christensen), and to St Kilda (for Rhys Stanley)
Heading into his second year at the Giants, he had an interrupted pre-season after falling off a motorbike while in Bali last October and breaking his collarbone.
"It wasn't the greatest time of my life," he said. "One of those things."
After missing the first two games, he's played the next 20, and is now primed for a long-awaited third ever final - matching up on either Isaac Heeney or Gary Rohan, with Phil Davis left to play on Lance Franklin and Adam Tomlinson to take Kurt Tippett.
"There's a lot of excitement around ... everyone is looking forward to it," he said.
"For Sydney footy and footy in New South Wales, it's great for the AFL.
"It should be a really good game."