Stewart embracing leaving comfort zone in State Team

Saturday, May 11, 2019 - 5:23 PM by Chris Pike

KADE Stewart has settled quickly back into life at South Fremantle having had a year back home at Katanning following his AFL stint with Hawthorn and he's already enjoyed the chance to be part of the WAFL State Team in the lead up to Sunday's clash against the SANFL.

Stewart spent the 2016 and 2017 AFL seasons at Hawthorn on the back of rising through the ranks at South Fremantle and making his league debut for the Bulldogs late in the 2015 campaign alongside older brother Tim.

The smooth moving left-footer looked at home in the AFL appearances he made for the Hawks over those two seasons as well and it appeared he was doing everything right to build himself a long career at the top level.

He was given no indication that anything else was the case as well so he was rocked when at the end of the 2017 season he was told that Hawthorn would be delisting him with little warning.

Stewart understandably needed some time to clear his head and refocus his life with all of a sudden his AFL dream taken from him so he returned home to Katanning in 2018 and played outstanding football locally while also finishing his apprenticeship as an electrician.

But clearly Stewart was too good a player to not at least be playing at WAFL level so he has returned to South Fremantle in 2019 and made a tremendous start to the season for the Bulldogs both spending time in the midfield and with stints in attack.

The result was that Stewart has been named as one of the final 27 players in the WAFL State Team ahead of Sunday's clash against the SANFL on Sunday at Optus Stadium.

Stewart is a good chance of making his debut for Western Australia alongside Bulldogs teammates Jacob Dragovich and Chad Pearson with Haiden Schloithe a lock to pull on the Black Swans jumper once more with the WAFL attempting to win a seventh straight State Game.

For Stewart, the whole experience of being part of the State Team up to this point has been a great chance to step out of his comfort zone and interact with players that usually he would only see as fierce rivals on a usual WAFL weekend.

"The main thing in our time together has been about getting to know everyone so we can go out as one unit on Sunday. It will be very exciting if I get the chance to do that," Stewart said.

"It has been pretty good and to get around everyone from different clubs means you have to get out of your comfort zone. 

"That was addressed on Monday night so everyone is willing to get out of their comfort zone to spend time with people from other clubs which is the exciting thing. At the end of the day, you don’t feel uncomfortable and it's all part of the process and you just have to embrace it and take it on."

Playing in any State Game always creates some challenges in terms of knowing your opposition you are playing, but what the WAFL team has focused on is being able to play their brand of football to the best of their abilities with the knowledge if they do that, they will be tough to beat.

"Obviously we want to focus on how we play and our structure because we know the way that we play is very hard to beat if we get it right. That's the message Broady wants to get across to the players and everyone is invested in that," he said. 

"It's going to be really exciting for everyone to get onto the same page and know how we all play. That's the way we look at it and then with South Australia, you just look at the main players they have and how they've gone in previous state games. 

"But we will just focus on how we want to play and what we think we need to do so we can get the win on the day."

Stewart has enjoyed the seamless way he has been able to fit back into life at South Fremantle already this WAFL season as well after three years away with the two seasons at Hawthorn and then 12 months at home in Katanning.

"To be honest it doesn’t feel like I ever really left. The club has been pretty good and really welcoming for me, and their motto is to try to make you feel as normal as you can be and that's how the club has been at the start of the year. I'm now looking forward to continuing the season," he said.

"Some things you do adjust back to really well and some other things takes a bit longer to get back into it, but coming back from the country where I was last year it's a bit of a slower tempo of footy.

"So adjusting back to the faster pace in the WAFL still took a couple of weeks but then other things have clicked right back on. I'm pretty happy with the start of the season we've had and hopefully we can continue that on as well."

On top of the impressive personal start to the season for Stewart, it's also been strong overall for South Fremantle who have won four of the five games leading into the State Game break.

:I guess you could say we had a bit of a slow start to the season where we were pretty lucky to get away with a win against Swan Districts and then obviously Perth were just too good for us in the second round," Stewart said.

"But the progress since then has been really positive and I think over the weekend just gone against West Coast, that was the closest to a four-quarter performance that we've had. We can take the positives out of that and build on it to continue on."