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No stopping Sam Rowe

Nick Bowen  December 8, 2014 9:04 AM

Sam Rowe will be a part of the Carlton leadership group in 2015. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Sam Rowe will be a part of the Carlton leadership group in 2015. (Photo: AFL Photos)

It makes you appreciate what you've got and really try to make the most of it because it can end before you even know it.

Sam Rowe might have appeared a surprise addition to Carlton's leadership group to some outsiders.

The Blues announced on Tuesday that they had appointed Rowe to a new five-man leadership team, despite the fact the 27-year-old had played just 31 AFL games over two seasons.

The other four members of the leadership team – Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Lachie Henderson and Michael Jamison – have all been in the AFL for at least seven seasons and played more than 100 games.

But you can't define what Rowe will bring to the Carlton leadership group solely by his football experience.

Yes, he entered the AFL system just a month after Murphy was selected by Carlton with pick No.1 in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft, joining the Sydney Swans via pick No.62 in that year's rookie draft.

But two years later Rowe was delisted without playing a senior game, while Murphy had laid the base for a 185-game career that's still going strong.

Rowe would be in AFL exile for four years before the Blues threw him a second chance at pick No.44 in the 2011 national draft.


Carlton's 2015 leadership group: (L-R) Michael Jamison, Bryce Gibbs, Sam Rowe, Marc Murphy and Lachie Henderson. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

In those four years, Murphy won a Carlton best and fairest award and finished runner-up in another two counts. He also claimed an AFL Coaches Association Player of The Year Award, was named in an All Australian team and represented Australia in an International Rules Series.

In that same time, Rowe played for Norwood in the SANFL, but also joined "the real world", starting work as an apprenticeship carpenter.

When Carlton finally offered him an AFL lifeline, it was almost snatched away before he could seize it, with the key-position player diagnosed with testicular cancer early in 2012.


Fortunately, Rowe would beat the deadly disease, but his first season at Carlton was wiped out as he slowly returned to full health.

It was a lot of life experience to pack into five years, certainly a lot more than your average 27-year-old AFL footballer has had to deal with.

But Rowe told AFL.com.au his experiences outside the AFL bubble – good and bad – had helped put football into perspective.

"It's good to know what it's actually like to have a real job and work in the real world," Rowe said.

"I was just loving life working as an apprentice carpenter and playing some SANFL footy, but I think that really taught me to make the most of the time I've got in footy because you realise it can come and go very quickly.

"Similarly, when I had cancer football became the least of my worries. It was my job and your job certainly comes after your life.

"I was very lucky when I went through that time and you see a lot of people who weren't so lucky and were really battling.

"So that certainly opens your eyes to the fact there's so much more out in the world than just footy.

"It makes you appreciate what you've got and really try to make the most of it because it can end before you even know it."

Rowe said he had "no idea" what was required to make it as an AFL player when he joined the Swans as an 18-year-old.

He did everything he could to make it in Sydney, but his disappointment at being delisted would eventually be tempered by the lessons he took from his two years at the SCG.

"The thing that always stuck with me from Sydney was how hard they worked," Rowe said.

"Brett Kirk and people like that set a terrific example of just working hard all the time, that was something that I tried to take away from those guys."

Rowe was thrilled when Blues coach Mick Malthouse called him into his office on Tuesday morning to tell him he was in the leadership group.


Over the previous few weeks, the key defender had been told by the Blues' coaching staff that he was being considered for a leadership role, but he was still "over the moon" when he got the official nod.

Rowe said Malthouse just expected him to continue setting the on and off-field example he had set during his breakthrough 2014 season, when the former forward reinvented himself as a defender.

"I just try to have a crack with everything that I do. The coaches said, 'That's all we want from our leaders, just keep setting the example that you've been setting'," Rowe said.

"We're really trying just to take the club forward and get a lot of sustained success. We're all on the same page.

"I'm fairly bullish about our prospects. I think we're not all that far away from having a bit of success.

"And I'm going to do everything I can to be successful. I'll do everything I can for this club to be successful."