Collingwood’s fairytale grand final inclusion Billy Frampton says he’s had “more downs than ups” over his nine-year career but is ready for his shot at premiership glory on Saturday.
Frampton revealed he would start in the Magpies’ forward line as a direct replacement for injured tall Dan McStay, but his versatility will have coach Craig McRae looking at different roles for the former Crow during the game.
The 26-year-old has been on one of the most arduous journeys to the grand final of the 44 players, spending his first five seasons on Port Adelaide’s list for just three games after he was drafted with pick 84 out of South Fremantle in 2014.
He played 21 games in three seasons after a trade to Adelaide before Collingwood sought him out last off-season, using the 201cm utility in a career-high 15 games this season.
Ahead of what will be his first final, Frampton said his selection had been a reward for “staying the course” after a journey littered with setbacks.
“I reckon there’s probably been a fair bit more downs than ups in my career so far, but to be able to run out tomorrow makes that all worth it,” he said.
“It’s an interesting journey, and there’s plenty of things that go on, but staying the course and persisting has always been how I’ve tried to conduct myself and get a little bit of reward – hopefully a lot more by the end of tomorrow.
“I obviously decided this was what I wanted to do with myself and just given it my all. I think if I bundied out at the end of my career and it didn’t work out, at least I could look back and say I had a crack and took opportunities when they came … I don’t want to die wondering.”
Frampton would not be drawn on whether he had been assigned to star Brisbane interceptor Harris Andrews in a defensive role but said the Magpies would look to stretch the Lions’ defence for height with Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron to also drift forward.
It comes as Brisbane opted not to select 197cm full-back Jack Payne, sticking with the 5cm shorter Darcy Gardiner after he impressed in the preliminary final while Payne nursed an ankle injury.
“I’ll be starting forward mostly I think, but there’s plenty of scope for me to go into the ruck and into the backline as well … there’ll be a bit going on,” Frampton said.
“It’s not totally unfamiliar … I’ve played three or four games there, the role is quite simple – it’s just to compete and give us a target.
“I think we’ll definitely try (to stretch Brisbane in the air), I think Coxy and Darce will come down there at times, and they’ll give us a big target. Any way we can test them out, I’m sure we’ll try to expose it.”
Collingwood defender Isaac Quaynor spoke alongside Frampton before Friday’s grand final parade, soaking up the “beautiful weather”.
He said the hot conditions expected on Saturday did not worry him, and the Magpies were well prepared for the extra physical demands.
“I think we’re pretty used to it … we’ve done some preparation around it, we’ve had some extra time put into our hydration around the week,” Quaynor said.
“I love the heat, personally – I’m going to maybe even (apply) a little ‘coatage’ of reef oil or something, just to make myself a little bit slippery.”
He said best mate Jack Ginnivan, who will join Frampton in the Magpies’ starting 22 for the first time this finals series, had been justly rewarded for his determined work while stuck in the VFL during the middle of the season.
“It’s unreal, he’s put in a power of work, especially the second half of the year … I think at times he kind of lost a little bit of hope,” Quaynor said.
“For him to be able to get up on grand final day and make the actual 22 is so cool, and I know the Magpie army will love him being out there.
“He’s an AFL player, he always has been – it’s just where he fitted, and now he’s back in.”