Tom Robertson signing another win for the AFL

Written by Sam Burge, AFL Canberra Media

From a Canberra Raiders pre-season last year to an Eastlake Demons pre-season this year? Yes it seems bizarre, but why not! That’s Tom Robertson’s attitude anyway.

The rugby league prop has switched codes and will be playing in the AFL Canberra competition for the Eastlake Demons in 2021.

“It’s always been on my mind to try out AFL”, Robertson said.

With rugby league’s NSW cup being cancelled last year, Robertson was unable to play what is essentially NRL reserve grade and the Australian Rules spark was lit.

He still played for the Woden Rams in the 2020 Canberra Rugby League competition but the thought of kicking around a Sherrin never disappeared.

With friends from University and a number of fellow ex-Marist students playing for Eastlake, the black and red sash was the obvious choice for the 21-year-old.

“Already knowing a few people has made the transition easier and it seemed like a really good club,” he said.

“I felt a bit out place before Christmas, rocking up in my rugby league kit.”

Studying physiology, Robertson said was given an AFL ball over Christmas and New Year to practice his new craft ahead of the upcoming season.

“My skills haven’t been too bad, but obviously there’s still a lot to work on.”

Robertson will trade the Steeden for the Sherrin and a late offload for a handball in traffic this year, with his size and agility leaving him well equipped to make the transition into a new sport.

Standing at over 200cm, Robertson has naturally found himself training in the Ruck and will have a strong presence in the contest this year.

Instead of taking a hit up off the kick off into a wall of defence, Robertson will be looking to jump high and tap the ball down the throat of his midfield to start his games this year.

As well as being around the contest, he may find himself pushing forward to provide a target and another avenue to goal.

With trial matches approaching, the newfound ruckman will continue to hone in on his craft ahead of the 2021 season. Robertson still has plenty of time though, with round 1 of the AFL Canberra season not until the 1st of May.

With the NRL and AFL seasons now underway, Robertson says it will be hard to watch the AFL with a family full of ‘rugby league tragics’.

“Thanks to Kayo I’ll probably do the split screen thing and watch them both at once,” he laughed.

“I’ll definitely be watching a bit more AFL this year, but some nights I might have to go into another room, with everyone else watching the NRL.”

Having lost last year’s grand final to Queanbeyan, Eastlake will be hoping Robertson is the key ingredient in their quest for a premiership this year.

“It’s a massive goal for us to go one step further than last year,” he said.

Robertson was successful in breaking the Woden Rams’ premiership drought in 2018 and will be hoping he replicate his success with the Eastlake Demons in 2021.