An AFL insight – Inside the mind of Adelaide Crow, Josh Jenkins

Since the completion of the 2012 AFL football season, Josh Jenkins, the big number 20 from the Adelaide Crows has enjoyed visiting his hometown of Swan Hill.  Thomas Dullard caught up with him to discuss trade week, his move to Adelaide, Kurt Tippett, the AFL, the media and more.

This time last year, to his own admission, it was Josh Jenkins’ name on the trade table. A year on, and almost two years into his AFL career, Jenkins avidly remembers how he ended up at the Adelaide Crows.

“Trade week is a pretty tough week. A lot happens but nothing happens,” Jenkins said.

Exactly one year ago, he knew it was unlikely he was going to stay in Melbourne, but the 197cm footballer was faced with day-to-day uncertainty.

“I knew there was a bit of interest and I was probably going to be on the move. Monday and Tuesday I sat around with nothing. No phone calls,” he said.

When the phone rang early on Wednesday, Jenkins’ and his management sprung into action.

After driving across Melbourne, successive meetings with both the Gold Coast Suns and the Adelaide Crows showed promise.

Adelaide seemed the most serious, but Jenkins’ future was still in the balance.

“I can remember there was a contingency of staff at the Adelaide meeting. So it was a lot more intimidating, they posed some pretty tough questions that I didn’t expect,” he said.

“I managed to squeeze my way through the meeting. But, I still didn’t know if I was staying in Melbourne, going to Adelaide or the Gold Coast, and I had two other clubs keen to meet.”

After flying to Adelaide with now-close mate Tom Lynch, he faced a meeting with coach Brenton Sanderson and the Crows football staff, before being tested with a detailed medical test.

“It was a pretty tough time. But, you just have to go with the flow a little bit and try present as best as you can.”

On the following Monday, almost 12 months to the day, the Crows snatched Jenkins up (plus pick 41) from the Bombers in exchange for pick 31 in the AFL draft.

Although he had to leave some close friends – including ex-team mate Michael Hurley, whom he has maintained close contact with – he has eased his way into the new job that he loves.

“I am happy with the move. I didn’t foresee how long it would take me to fit in, it took me a lot longer than I expected to settle in with the playing group,” Jenkins said.

“It is a dream job, but like every job it has its pitfalls. We are tested mentally, physically and emotionally.”

“But that is the same as a lot of jobs, but we have coaches breathing down our necks and pressure to always improve, 24/7 you have to be thinking am I doing the right thing for footy and the footy club.”

“Then there is the pressure from the media, especially in Adelaide. But. you just need to embrace it and if you do, it can work in your favour.”

Jenkins’ has seemingly incorporated into the Crows experience without any major glitches.

After playing 11 games with the Crows this year, he highlighted his game against Carlton at Etihad stadium – along with the four other road games – as stand out experiences.

Josh Jenkins in the inner sanctum at the Crows

As his appearances with the Crows increase, so does his profile. But, the big man accepts any extra attention.

“It is another thing you have to embrace as a part of the job,” he acknowledged.

“If the worst part of your job is having to get a photo with someone or talk about the weekends footy, you have a pretty good job.”

“It can get annoying, but there are a lot of bigger problems in the world than that.”

Jenkins’ debut in the AFL has not come shy of hard work – contrary to popular belief  – players all over the country are fine-tuning their bodies and game plans with countless hours behind closed doors.

“People think that we cruise in for an hour and a half here and there, do some weights and go home.”

“At a guess, I would say that we have up to 10 meetings a week that go between 20 minutes to 90 minutes.”

“On a normal week we always have one main training session and two other lighter sessions, plus extra conditioning in the pool or in the boxing ring.“

That is all on top of personal weights, fitness and recovery regimes.

“It’s not like we are working 100 hour weeks, but are always working hard.”

Josh Jenkins works on a spin bike during the post season

When Jenkins isn’t under the weights defending his bench press record at the Crows, he likes writing at the Adelaide Advertiser as a part of his AFL work experience program.

“I go into the Adelaide advertiser [and] I write an online column for them. They help me out and teach me where I go wrong and what I can do better.”

“I just enjoy writing and talking about footy and talking about other sports.”

“It is important to switch off, even though I am writing about sport, going into the advertiser helps take my mind off footy.”

An AFL fanatic and American sports nut, Jenkins is gradually becoming acclimatised to channelling his love for all things sport.

“Sometimes I have to be careful and remember I am a player and I can’t yell and scream and carry on like supporters do, I guess that just shows I am passionate about the game.

His passion for the game got him into hot water recently, after his online column surrounding Kurt Tippetts departure caught some mainstream media attention.

“I just thought I would tell it how it is, I didn’t say anything untoward, but we were just disappointed with how Kurt decided to leave things and that is pretty much it.”

“A few of the media outlets ran with it, because Kurt is a big topic at the moment, but it was more about me trying to give a bit of insight, I think it is good to be honest, players often give the same old line and the media always complain.”

“So, it is a tough one. If the media continue to criticise players when they step out, then they will get less of it.”

Ironically, Jenkins’ is tipped to play a greater role in the senior side in 2013 with the highly publicised departure of Tippett, rightfully he is upbeat about what is to come.

“I have enjoyed my first year in Adelaide and I am contracted for two more years. Hopefully I will be in the 22 next year, obviously we will expect to be playing finals football again.”

Unknown to many onlookers, Jenkins’ missed a birth in the Preliminary final against Hawthorn by the smallest of margins.

He was named first emergency, and with the combination of good form in the reserves plus an injury to Jared Petrenko the Crows tall utility actually thought he would play right up until game day.

That will be a driving force in his second season at the Crows.

“I am still going to be young, so hopefully I play the majority of the 2013 season and be in the mix to play some finals footy.”

With plenty of doubters along the way, Jenkins isn’t worried about proving anyone wrong.

“I can remember hearing people saying I wouldn’t make it or whatever, but every single person has to deal with that and everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he said.

Born and bred in Swan Hill, he played for St. Mary’s as a young school boy, Swan Hill in the under 13’s, Tyntynder from under 15’s through to seniors and in more recent times, Lake Boga.

Jenkins is one of two (Troy Davis – Melbourne) Central Murray players representing the region in the AFL.

He is doing so with dignity.

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