WHEN most AFL players talk about working hard and making sacrifices to get an opportunity, they mean training well and shunning vices.
Zac Langdon speaks with a bit more authority on the topic of toil, having worked from dawn to dusk to get his chance.
Langdon is the league’s latest mature-age recruit success story, proving once again the under-18 championships aren’t the only pathway to the big time.
The 22-year-old debuted in round one and has been a mainstay during his first season with Greater Western Sydney, missing a couple of games because of a broken hand then returning straight to the AFL.
The small forward has helped fill the void left by Steve Johnson. Coach Leon Cameron loves his work ethic and pressure acts, which were imperative in the Giants’ drought-breaking win over Adelaide in round 11.
Langdon’s journey started in the West Australian mining town of Dampier, where he’d begun an electrical apprenticeship with Rio Tinto.
Langdon moved on a whim to Perth in 2016, wanting to test himself in the WAFL.
Claremont offered no promises, nor help finding a job or home. But the club agreed to let him train.
Langdon made the initial cut, impressed in the reserves then was given a chance in the WAFL.
At the end of a second WAFL season, Langdon was drafted by GWS and shifted across the country to a city he’d never visited.
Langdon has already signed a contract extension. It’s vindication of what was a risky venture.
“I actually look back at it now and think – what was going through my head? What would have happened if things didn’t fall into place?” Langdon told AAP.
“I would have given it a couple more years in the WAFL if I wasn’t drafted, but at some point I would have had to start thinking about saving some money.
“I’m glad I did it, but it was a massive risk.
“When I got my apprenticeship, dad was over the moon. He’d always said that apprenticeship could set me up for life.”
And Langdon didn’t exactly regard his first gig as drudgery, describing it as “a really good job”.
“It was mostly to do with the conveyor belts, loading iron ore onto ships. Every day was pretty dirty, rolling around in the dirt,” he recalled.
“It was different.
“A lot of the country doesn’t get to see it, but I’m glad I grew up around it. Mum worked on the mines; dad was a helicopter pilot, flying people out onto the rigs and stuff like that.”
Langdon then worked as a sparky during his stint in Perth.
He’d leave home at 5am or 6am, spend the day jumping in and out of roofs, head straight to training then return home at 9pm, eat dinner and pass out.
A spider bite that briefly stopped him from playing was one of few interruptions to that routine.
“I remember saying to my partner Eli ‘I don’t know how many years I’ll be able to do this for’. It was tough, but I think it made the draft even more special,” Langdon said.
“It’s such massive relief to get that opportunity.
“I came here with an open mind, was lucky enough to play round one and now it’s just about working hard.”