Shocked Stocker had to go into ‘self-preservation mode’ after being delisted from AFL

AFL

Liam Stocker’s delisting came as a shock to the AFL world.

Carlton decided that after 28 games and four seasons that they would not renew his contract for 2023.

Stocker came to the club as a highly talented midfielder, which the Blues used pick 19 in the 2018 National Draft.

His acquisition was highly unique as it was the first time there was a live trade of selections on draft night, with Carlton gunning for the Sandringham Dragons product.

Despite being unable to put his best foot forward due to injury and form, the 22-year-old still remains positive.

Speaking on SEN’s Andy & Gazey, Stocker mentioned the difficulty in processing the delisting news shortly after revealing he nearly retired due to “aggressive anxiety disorder.”

“I had to go into self-preservation mode a bit (when I was told),” Stocker said.

“I was pretty shocked, I went in there thinking I probably deserve another year or two here, I felt like I’d been pretty selfless in the roles I’d taken up over the last three or four years, and for the most part, I just feel like I had a lot to offer

 I don’t want to tarnish anything I was given in those four years so for me, it was about taking the emotion out of it a bit and getting to a safe place where I could think it through. That was at home for me with my girlfriend and my family.”

Stocker’s openness about his battles has been recognised by the greater public, as he wishes to create conversations regarding mental health, according to AFL.com.au.

“I now realise my purpose in football might be a little bit bigger than just being good at it,” Stocker said.

“For me it’s going to be destigmatising mental health, whether it’s in men’s health circles or in the AFL, but I’m going to do everything in my power to make people feel like suffering like this is OK.

“I know other people struggle, I know everyone does, and that’s what makes it OK for me.”

The former Blue still believes he has plenty to offer an AFL club.

Stocker has said that claims of him being unfit are ‘rubbish’.

“The notion that I’m not fit enough to play AFL football is rubbish, I know I can run, I ran a 6.30 two-kilometre in pre-season which is the equivalent of what most other midfielders are running as well,” Stocker said.

“From that point of view, if that’s my main weakness, I’ve got it to a point where it’s not as standout as it used to be.”

The 22-year-old feels he is more equipped to play as an inside midfielder.

“I think for the most part my ability to lock down on players and beat them in a contest is what stands out across the ground. I think being in a contest more often is what suits me.

“I’m willing to play that lockdown role if it means I’m doing the job for a team, I don’t really mind, I think I’m an asset all over the ground.”

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