The Brayshaw clan haven’t been averse to hard work. Their family tradition of running a hundred 100-metre sprints on Christmas Day is the stuff of footy lore. Constable has now joined in the tradition.
So back in Melbourne after their respective seasons had come to an end, Brayshaw and Constable got back on the horse.
Even before he was drafted, the knock on the 191-centimetre Cat had been his ability to spread. It was hard to find time to improve his running ability during 2018 campaign, so the off-season provided a window of opportunity.
“We’d do running and gym six days a week together. Each morning we’d go down together and do a football and running session and then do gym together,” Constable said this week.
“Pretty much we were just down at the park, and we just practised running from one side of the oval to the other, trying to visualise a game of football.”
Working during his supposed downtime reaped dividends for Constable. Personal bests were delivered upon return to the Cattery.
“I thought when I got back from the off-season I was feeling really fit and strong and my body wasn’t getting as sore after running sessions and weight sessions which was a good sign as well,” he said.
Constable had repeatedly been an emergency in 2018. Missing out had driven the off-season’s hard work.
The wait was set to end soon. An impressive JLT Series led to Constable’s inclusion for the Cats’ opener against Collingwood last weekend, joining Tom Atkins, Gryan Miers and Jordan Clark as Geelong debutants.
Constable held his own, too – accumulating 21 disposals and kicking a crucial last-quarter goal as the Cats prevailed by seven points. He’d only found out the day before the game that he’d be playing, with coach Chris Scott calling in players during training to reveal the debutants.
“It was good, because I didn’t have too much time to think about it,” Constable said.
He was presented with his jumper by mentor Mitch Duncan, while veteran Harry Taylor spoke about what it meant to wear the hoops.
Playing in front of more than 78,000 people was like nothing Constable had experienced before.
“The crowd was probably the main thing that I couldn’t believe. I just couldn’t hear my teammates out there at all. That took a little while to get adjusted to, what you see and feel out there, as opposed to hearing.
“It was obviously an amazing atmosphere.”
The goal was something of a reflex action. “I don’t even know what I was thinking. I sort of just got it, had a bit of time and space, just had a shot and was lucky enough it went through.”
His running no longer feels like the liability it might have been before.
“Obviously it’s not one of my major strengths but I think I’ve got it to a point now where I feel comfortable that every time I go out on the field I’ll be able to execute it when it’s my turn to go,” Constable said.
“I think that’s showed through the first couple of weeks of JLT and round one, which has been really positive. Obviously it’s always going to be a work in progress but I feel like if I keep working on other areas of my game that’ll somewhat make up for it, too.”
With Geelong having repeatedly eschewed the pointy end of the draft in favour of seasoned AFL players, it was significant that the Cats toppled last year’s grand finalists having picked a quartet of debutants in a team also featuring the likes of Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett.
Constable, Brandan Parfitt and Tim Kelly have been given greater responsibility in the midfield with Ablett shifting forward and Selwood spending more time on the wing.
“The evolution of our club, we can’t just keep playing the same players in there, because when they all retire we’ll have no one with that experience … I think they’re just blooding a few boys through there,” Constable said.
“But I certainly think all the older boys still have a massive part to play in there. On the weekend when the game was really in the balance, the older boys in there did an amazing job.”
Brayshaw and Constable continue to speak a couple of times a week. Constable was worked up after the Gaff incident but Brayshaw called him soon after to allay his friend’s concerns.
Coincidentally, the bond even stretches to the pair’s living arrangements. They’ve had to find new housemates this year. Constable is now living with Irish teammate Mark O’Connor and first-year Cat Oscar Brownless after Lincoln McCarthy moved to Brisbane. McCarthy is, of course, a long-time friend of Brayshaw’s ex-housemate Lachie Neale, who also shifted to the Lions.
Constable is not only friends with Andy, though. He’s tight with the Brayshaw family at large.
On Saturday night he’s likely to confront older brother Angus when the Cats host Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium.
“We had a chat last week and we were hoping I’d still be in the team. It’ll be very special, hopefully to line up against each other for a fair bit of the night,” Constable said.
Away from footy Constable is a keen golfer, regularly playing with teammates Duncan, Tom Stewart and Tom Hawkins. The youngster will also soon take up studies in business and is set learn carpentry as well.
Because of his size, Constable has been compared with Patrick Cripps. The young Cat keeps a close eye on the Carlton skipper, but knows there’s a long way to go to reach Cripps’ level.
“I think it’s the type of player I model my game on, but at the same time I don’t think there’s much of a comparison. He’s an absolute champion of the game, and I’ve played one game.”
Daniel is an Age sports reporter.