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How Charlie changed his game

Harry Thring, AFL Media  August 11, 2015 8:30 AM

AFL 2015 Rd 16 - Port Adelaide v Adelaide

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19: Charlie Cameron of the Crows celebrates a goal during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between Port Adelaide Power and the Adelaide Crows at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

I'm feeling more confident and more comfortable…I'm enjoying my footy at the moment so I've just got to keep going.

DISAPPOINTED and annoyed at his two-kick contribution in Adelaide's NAB Challenge loss to Geelong in February, Charlie Cameron skipped his video-review session with coach David Teague so he didn't have to relive the performance.

There was no need for him to review the club's final pre-season hit-out against Port Adelaide either – he had been dropped.

The moment was defining and Cameron has taken huge strides in his development since, including the round 13 nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award and a four-goal haul in round 17.

Speaking to AFL.com.au, Cameron described Teague and Eddie Betts as key figures in his career.

"I had a bad game so I didn't want to do my review … [David] said you've got to live and learn, if you have a bad game you've got to learn from it," Cameron said.

"He's been on me ever since then, just telling me to do extras, just keep working, keep improving … he's been a real influence this year."

Teague arrived at West Lakes in October, 2014, and was told that Cameron had serious potential, but his habits were ordinary at best.

But Teague was pleasantly surprised by what he saw

"When I arrived at the club everyone said, ‘This kid's got talent but he's a long way off being a professional AFL footballer'," Teague told AFL.com.au.

"From what everyone had explained to me, he was the opposite – he was really professional, he was working really hard, and then he missed one video session and I just used it as a moment.

"I just wanted to make it clear to him that he'd set a standard, the standard of an AFL footballer.

"The one video session he missed was in pre-season and since then he's been very good. There was one week he was sick and rang me and said, ‘Oh, I still need to do my video'."

It is all part of Cameron maturing.

He's recently moved into his own place with his girlfriend, Sari (he didn't bother with a removalist and just borrowed a mate's car. It was an "exhausting” week, he said).

Eddie Betts has gone from hiding vegetables in his food to letting him babysit his son, and club legend Andrew McLeod has him mentoring young students every second Wednesday night.

Cameron's relationship with Betts is well known and Teague believed the veteran deserved much of the recognition for his protégé's 2015 form.

Betts took him in last year and taught him about the little things: diet, recovery and preparation – boring but crucial to a successful career.

"I still go over to his house for dinner and stuff. He still helps me out a lot on and off the field," Cameron said.

"Moving away from home he made me feel comfortable … for a young indigenous kid coming over to play footy away from family, he made me feel like I was living at home."

Maturity has also seen Cameron step it up on the training track. 

He's now as electric and intense at every training session as he is on game day, which has naturally led to improved levels of comfort and confidence in the senior side.

Teague's memory of Cameron's skipped review session is already fading fast and the man himself has eyes focused on his future.

"I just need to improve my kicking game, also my fitness so hopefully I can get up the ground more up onto a wing or something – to be more versatile,” Cameron said.

"I'm feeling more confident and more comfortable…I'm enjoying my footy at the moment so I've just got to keep going.”