A Player's Perspective: Tom Gorter

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 1:05 PM by Katie de Haer

Originally from Kojonup, 260 kilometres south-east of Perth, Tom Gorter has played 56 WAFL games since his league debut in 2015. 

A move from the backline to the wing last season added another dimension to his game, something Gorter is hoping to build on once the WAFL returns. 

“I guess I’ve always set the goal of trying to play every league game. There’s always pressure for spots, especially as we recruit new players and the younger blokes are developing.

“I started on the wing last year which was a new role for me, so this year will be about developing my skills as a wingman and building on the fundamentals of the game – the kicking, the handballing, all the basics of it. 

“For me, it’s about having fun too. That’s a massive thing I’ve learnt over the past few years; if you’re enjoying your football, you play better, I think.”

At 191cm, Gorter is part of the Royals’ emerging engine room that added recruits Nick Robertson (Brisbane), Angus Schumacher (Carlton), Aidan Lynch (West Perth) and former SANFL player Jake Veide in the off-season.

“I thought I adapted pretty well (last season). It was nice getting up the ground and covering a bit more of the oval, moving around a bit more. It took me a few games to get used to it.

“Rohan Kerr and Shaq McKenzie play that role as well so they’ve been great to learn off. The more I played, the better a read on the game I got.”

With the WAFL and AFL seasons postponed until at least May 31, debate surrounding lifting the AFL draft age continues to rage. 

Gorter was selected by West Coast in the 2016 rookie draft as a 20-year-old and said being picked up a couple of years after high school meant he could build the foundations of life away from football. He said the advice from the AFL Players’ Association was to pursue study and other avenues of work outside of the game.   

“From personal experience, spending a few years’ out of school allowed me to establish an identity away from football – for me, that was studying to be a physiotherapist. 

“I think from that point of view it was really helpful. My career finished pretty quickly but I think having an established setup and identity away from football meant that when my time at West Coast did come to an end, it was relatively easy for me to slide back into study again. 

“I think that made the transition a lot easier, for me personally.” 

The now 23-year-old is enjoying his time with the Royals, with a return to AFL not out of the question.

“I guess I’ve always set myself a target to play at the highest level possible,” said Gorter.

“I’m really content playing for East Perth and playing my role there, (but) if I did get the opportunity again, obviously you’d jump at the chance.  

“For me, it’s about playing the best footy I can at whatever level that may be.” 

Away from the club, Gorter said his work as a physiotherapist combines well with his footballing career. 

“I just started a new job a couple of months ago, so it’s been really good to get stuck into that. Especially with no training at the moment it’s been really good to focus on my work.

“A lot of the skills and things I’ve learnt in footy have translated really well into being a physio - I think they complement each other quite nicely.” 

WAFL players are expected to begin non-contact training in groups of ten, given that the State Government has now eased restrictions on public gatherings.

“My understanding is that we can train in bigger groups now, up to 10 people. When I say train, it’s more the running component, we’re still not allowed to be sharing equipment.

“In terms of skills and tackling there are still restrictions on that, but being able to run together in bigger groups will be really good. You just get a bit more of that social aspect that you miss not playing or being involved in training,” he said.

“I’m pretty fortunate that I live near the coast, so I can cruise down there for lots of my runs, which is pretty nice, but it’s definitely not the same as playing games at this time of year.”

Gorter said the players and club had been overwhelmed with the support from members, fans and sponsors during this unprecedented period.

“It’s so important that we have the support because they’re the ones who keep the club going. 

"Stay healthy, look after yourselves and keep supporting the club, we really appreciate it.”