JEREMY Cameron says leaving Greater Western Sydney to return to Victoria and play for AFL rivals Geelong was the hardest decision of his life.
The Cats paid handsomely to secure Cameron, giving up three first-round picks in this year’s draft – currently selections 13, 15 and 20 – as part of the deal to land the 27-year-old on Thursday night.
Cameron, who grew up in southwest Victoria, was a foundation Giant who joined the expansion club as a 17-year-old. He recounted the moment he told long-term mentor and GWS coach Leon Cameron his time in Western Sydney was up.
“It was very emotional,” Cameron told reporters on Friday.
“I still remember calling Leon and saying ‘do you mind coming around to sit on the couch? We need to have a chat’ – and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
After battling for several weeks with the “50-50” call on his future, Cameron and his partner Indiana took a weekend away to mull the decision over – and ultimately decided on moving back to Victoria to be closer to their respective families.
“We literally slept in a swag and just spoke about it all night, and the next morning, driving back to Sydney, I knew,” he said.
The key forward had a tough 2020, booting just 24 goals in 17 games – the lowest tally of his career.
A keen fisherman who loves the outdoors, Cameron admitted he struggled with spending much of the season in a hub environment – but said that did not contribute to his decision to leave the Giants.
“I’m the first to put my hand up and say I’m extremely disappointed with the season that I had,” Cameron said.
“The hub hurt me in a lot of ways. It was tough to be locked down.
“I really hated sitting in a hotel and I sort of got myself in that headspace where I just really battled (with the effects of lockdown) and I’m disappointed with myself – I probably should have spoken to the club and been a bit honest earlier.”
After deciding to join Geelong, Cameron did not watch his new teammates’ grand- final capitulation to Richmond live – having gone off-grid to fish for barramundi off Arnhem Land.
Cameron relied on patchy updates via satellite phone, then watched the replay – but said he could relate to his new teammates after falling short himself in 2019.
After spending the final minutes of the trade period nervously pacing a restaurant as he waited on news of a deal, a relieved Cameron can now officially relish the prospect of building a partnership with senior Cat Tom Hawkins.
“I really feel that I can learn so much off Hawk and I look forward to working with him,” Cameron said.
“He can push me around on the footy field … I’ll listen to him, don’t worry about that.”
(C) AAP 2020