20140718-Night-Game-V-Old-Brighton-471-300x225

I’ve interviewed plenty of great players over the past couple of years, from Anthony Koutoufides to Matt Spangher to Tom Boyd.

No matter who I talk to, the media training drones in when questions start, and the mystique of what goes on in a football club is hidden.

Readers are bored with that predictability, and that’s why coaches like Mick Malthouse, Mark Thompson and Paul Roos are so refreshing.

Nick Corp, who made it through to the final 22 in AFL reality show The Recruit, was by far the most interesting football player I’ve ever interviewed.

I aimed to fire about five or six questions at him for a short interview: however, once we got chatting, I became so enthralled in his experience that the conversation lasted nearly 20 minutes.

Corp’s football story is unique. He started at Vic Kick as an eight-year-old, and then progressed onto school football. By the time he was 17, the TAC Cup “didn’t interest him”.

It wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough, but more the fact that he couldn’t envision himself – in his words – “going the distance”.

He instead started with Wesley Collegians in the VAFA and won himself a league best and fairest in his first year, before moving on to win an A-Grade Premiership a few years later.

He’s just notched up his 100th game for Wesley, and the epiphany came to Corp.

“I started to realise my potential and thought I could give the AFL a tickle,” he said.

I asked Corp why he didn’t consider a move to the VFL or another state level competition, and he reiterated his disinterest.

“It didn’t really appeal to me,” Corp said.

“My family isn’t a big footballing family so I never had the push and we didn’t have any connections to the VFL or even the TAC Cup when I was 18.

“Looking back on it I wish I had have gone down that path but I was too young and excited about finishing school and I wanted to please my parents by going to university.”

Of course, one of the requirements for The Recruit is that entrants cannot have been listed on an AFL or state league list.

Corp entered a Construction Management course at RMIT and “career-wise it’s all panned out, but I wish I considered going into the AFL more at the time.”

Corp’s entrance into The Recruit was low key. A colleague from work sent him an email about it and mentioned that Corp may have been interested.

Corp then filled out a questionnaire hesitantly which asked questions like why haven’t you played AFL or VFL if you were good enough. He got an invite to a physical testing day, which lasted for about three hours in 38 degree heat.

An interview was then conducted to see if each entrant was interesting enough for television. Corp joked about a psychiatric test he had to take soon after” “they had to make sure you weren’t going to murder everyone in the house”.

Corp received an email after that saying that he was through to the filming stage. FOX8 wasn’t allowed to reveal much about the show and the timing, so he packed a bag, not knowing whether he would be there for one day or eight weeks.

Corp works full time, and he noted how difficult it was to convince his boss to let him take the chance on the show.

Corp and the 49 others stayed in a hostel in the city for the first show: having known a few other competitors from the VAFA, they group bonded immediately.

On the first day, the 50 competitors were sent to Etihad Stadium and met Michael Voss and the gang.

“We had no idea what we were going to do, but we knew it would be hard,” Corp said.

The first stage of running with the 10 kilogram blocks to the MCG was described as a “tricky but a really cool experience”. Corp also admittedly the group looked like a bunch of “bloody idiots running along Southbank with their own football guernseys.”

Six potential recruits were eliminated straight after the run, and Corp said those guys were “shattered, especially because they hadn’t even had a chance to kick the footy.”

The next day was dedicated to recovery and interviews. “They wanted funny stories, dirt on yourself and they tried to develop your character. As much as they say it’s about footy, it’s about the TV theatrics as well.”

The all in match at Vic Park was a surprise to all. “They didn’t even tell us where the game would be until we stepped out,” Corp said.

“It was pissing down. As much as they ham it up on TV, the conditions were terrible. There were recruiters from all 18 clubs and the pressure was on.”

The intensity of the situation became all too real in the second quarter. Corp wasn’t too sure about what happened, but he’d injured his hand.

“I wasn’t sure whether it was broken or not, but I played on. I wasn’t going to bring it up, because once you come off with an injury, you don’t get another chance,” Corp recalled.

“Ben Dixon started taking players off, and he came up to me and I said ‘am I off?’ but he just gave me advice.”

Corp went to the hospital the next day to get a scan, and it revealed that he had a spiral fracture in his hand and needed to get screws put in his hand.

He knew from then his journey was over.

Corp had surgery that night and he chuckled as he recalled the events afterwards. “A few guys from The Recruit came to pick me up from the hospital, and brought me a stack of adult magazines to cheer me up.”

Corp’s chances at AFL were not over. He received an email from Adelaide saying that they liked how he played and they were going to send a scout to one of his games once he had recovered from his six-week injury.

“They emailed me after the game, saying that my speed and agility needed work and at my age it might not be worth the risk,” he said.

Indeed, Corp was perhaps one of the most interesting people I’ve ever interviewed. He revealed just about everything to me, although he said he couldn’t tell me who finished in the top three.

I wish Corp the best of luck in the future, and I applaud The Recruit for their work. Despite all the theatrics, the show is an excellent initiative.