DYLAN Roberton hasn’t had time to celebrate the second chapter of his AFL career just yet.
After leaving Fremantle at the end of 2012, Roberton trained with St Kilda in the hope of landing a spot on their list.
The club left for its high-altitude camp to Boulder, Colorado at the end of November and Roberton’s career was still in limbo until he received the phone call he had been waiting for, confirming that the Saints had signed him as a free agent.
Less than 24 hours after officially becoming a Saint, Roberton was on a plane to Boulder, Colorado to catch up with his new teammates.
The quick sequence of events understandably had the 21-year-old’s head spinning.
“I was told I’d be eased into it a bit because I had to adjust to the altitude. I knew that once I caught up to the guys I’d join full training,” Roberton said.
“I got told at about 1pm on the Wednesday and I flew out on midday the next day.”
Everything about Roberton’s brief time at St Kilda so far has been frantic, including the friendship building that comes with starting any new job.
While most new recruits would have to wait for brief glimpses of down time at training to assimilate themselves, Roberton found that living with the team at Boulder’s Millenium hotel meant he got to know the Saints squad quicker than he would have otherwise.
“It’s a good way to build relationships with the guys. We weren’t going in and out of the club so we’re kind of forced to be around each other,” he said.
“It was a much easier way to get in and meet the guys.”
The Saints were in twin-share accommodation for the Boulder trip with most rooms following the formula of one senior player with an inexperienced player.
Roberton had the perfect sounding board with his room mate, Adam Schneider, who like him had once moved from interstate to join the Saints.
Schneider was 23 years old when he was traded from the Sydney Swans at the end of 2007 and had some helpful advice for Roberton in what could easily have been an overwhelming experience.
“I was rooming with Schneids so it was good to get in with one of the older blokes and build some relationships,” he said.
“He just told me to be myself and told me how everyone’s easy to get along with.”
The camp had a two-pronged effect for Roberton. Not only did he figure out the group dynamic of the Saitnts but he also had his first experience training at high altitude.
“For me, the biggest thing is getting to know my teammates. I got to see how the group works,” he said.
“Physically it was a weird feeling – a lot harder to breathe. Even when I’d do the simple stuff like walking to the shops, it was just that bit more difficult to breathe.”
Roberton has now set himself up with his partner and child in Langwarrin, with the Saints home base Linen House Centre five minutes up the road while his family home is a five-minute drive the other way.
Not surprisingly, the Frankston native is a big advocate for the new free agency system that saw him return home after three years living on the other side of the country.
“If a number of clubs are looking at you, you can pick the club that is the best fit. So you can have another shot without going through the drafts,” he said.
“You don’t have to sit around and wait nervously for your name to get read out.”
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