Date of Birth: 22/08/1995
Club: Western Bulldogs FC
Games (Goals): 61 (50)
Recruited From: 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Pick 1 from Eastern Ranges (TAC Cup)
AIS/AFL Academy 2012 & 13
U/18 All Australian 2013
AFL Premiership 2016
A dominant key forward coming through the junior ranks for the Eastern Ranges (TAC Cup) and his local team Norwood (AFL), Tom carried a weight of expectation in 2013 when he was identified a long way out from the NAB AFL Draft as a clear number one pick. This expectation only grew throughout the season, especially after Tom made a dominant start to the Under 18 National Carnival for Vic Metro, before suffering a serious ankle injury against Western Australia. Although Tom was to miss much of the remainder of the season, he managed to make one more appearance for the Eastern Ranges in the TAC Cup Grand Final kicking four goals, to consolidate his standing in the Draft.
Selected at pick one by the GWS Giants who at that stage were in the infancy as a club, Tom joined a number of other high profile draftees that had been taken in the few years before him. Similar to the stance on Tom, there was also a weight of expectation from the public for the Giants to be instantly successful, which was an unnecessary burden on such a young list. Breaking into the team in Round 5, Tom played 9 games in his debut season before a tantalising offer was put to him to join the Western Bulldogs on a seven year contract. After much deliberation and jostling between the Giants and the Bulldogs, Tom became a Bulldog in 2015 which was an unprecedented move for a number one pick to change clubs after one season.
After deciding to join the Bulldogs, there was a lot of personnel changes between the time Tom agreed to play for the club and running out for his first game, most notably that was the change of senior coach, which saw Luke Beveridge assume the role. Coming from a club with high expectation to a club which didnt have the same level of pressure, the Bulldogs exceeded all expectations to make the finals as Tom provided a fantastic target up forward and avenue to goal. Whilst they only managed to make one finals appearance in 2015, it was 2016 which no one saw coming. Still with a relatively young list and finishing the home and away season towards the bottom of the final 8, the Bulldogs completed a miracle month with majority of the footy public getting behind them to win the 2016 Premiership against the seasoned Sydney Swans. Tom went on to play arguably the best game of is career in the Grand Final which many thought was a Norm Smith Medal effort for the Best on the Ground. This game capped off a tremendous final series for Tom and many thought he had just scratched the surface of his talents.
After the highs of 2016, Tom experienced a rough patch through injury in 2017 and also decided to take some time away from the game to sort out his own struggles around his mental health. After a short break, Tom returned to play VFL finals for the Bulldogs and was keen for it to launch him into 2018. However with injury again occurring in the preseason, he had a late start to the season although played some consistent footy before a back injury cut his season short by a month. As Tom worked diligently in the offseason to get his back right which included trying a number of different types of training and professional services, he finally got back to playing some VFL in 2019 after a small block of training, before announcing to the club and his team mates that he had made the decision to retire effective immediately. Whilst some were shocked by his decision, those close to him knew that he had been managing his mental health for a number of years and that for him to enjoy his life and be the person he wanted to be, he needed to step away from the AFL which included the remaining two years of is contract.
Although Tom has stepped away from the AFL, he hasn’t lost his passion for the game enjoying having a kick with his friends down at Norwood. In addition to this, Tom has immersed himself into his studies, whilst also crafting out his story which he now shares with people from all walks of life and demographic talking about the importance of managing ones own mental health and the techniques he has incorporated in his daily life.