When Andrew James arrived in Bathurst this year from Lismore one of the first things he did was look to continue playing Australian rules.
He linked up with the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels and, as they say, the rest is history.
James has been one of the key cogs of the Rebels machine – a man who knows how to break into an opponent’s defensive 50.
He’s picked up a share of goals along the way towards this Saturday’s Central West AFL grand final against Orange Tigers and helped set up numerous attempts for his teammates.
Among all the success, and even a representative call-up this year, James wouldn’t be getting as much out of this year if it weren’t for the people around him.
With a combination of a great team culture and a strong winning record James believes the Bushrangers have given him a special experience in 2018.
“Since I’ve moved here I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, and this has been my most successful year of footy. Before I move here I wasn’t doing much winning in the Queensland leagues,” he said.
“I’m in a team with a bunch of good blokes, we’re enjoying our footy, getting a few wins along the way and we’ve managed to get ourselves into the grand final.
“Everyone’s bought in to what the coaches are trying to sell and we all enjoy each other’s company.
“It’s two apiece so far and the next one’s the decider. No game has been clearly won by either team. There’s only been a goal or two in it and it’s good to go in with both teams having good form.”
James formed part of a dominant Central West representative midfield for their big Matt Smith Memorial Shield win over Riverina.
Within two just two months of playing for Bushrangers James had done enough to catch the eyes of selectors.
He’s only improved from the experience, especially with his goal-kicking boots.
James went on a seven-game goal scoring run which was only snapped in the major semi-final win over the Tigers, an impressive statistic for a player more focused on creating opportunities rather than capitalising on them.
He believes more of the devastating final quarter footy the Rebels delivered in that major semi-final will go a long way towards a title.
“Our run and carry during the game was really good. We got over the top of them at the end of the game with that,” he said.
“Our positive attitude towards the game and each other was really important. If we’re lucky we might be able to kick a little straighter than the last few weeks.”
Saturday’s decider starts at 2.30pm, at Bathurst’s George Park.