If the hard work is there, the reward will come.

That goes for not just my teammates, but our club’s female counterparts as well.

Every player that dons the Navy Blue, does so knowing the responsibility they carry around Ikon Park.

This year hasn’t panned out as we would have hoped, but if we play the level of football we know we are capable of, the wheel can turn very quickly.

We are at the halfway point of a 22-round home-and-away season, and the beauty of footy is so much can happen in that timeframe – and I’ve stated on countless occasions, there is no need for us to put a ceiling on what we can and can’t achieve in 2018.

Carlton has been building towards a greater path for much longer than that.

The on-field success might not have been there in recent seasons, but each year we have edged closer to becoming a more polished and competitive football team, especially throughout 2016-17.

It wasn’t as though we couldn’t win footy games; we just didn’t know how to finish them.

And there simply were parts of our game that weren’t yet up to AFL standard.

From memory, there were up to seven games last season where we were ahead in the third, and fourth quarter, but weren’t able to come away with the four points.

There was also a greater need to hit the scoreboard, we we have worked hard to improve in a bid to be more potent in attack.

I’m confident that over the course of the season, our ability to source goals from across the park will be marked as one of our team strengths.

Of course, growing as a “team” also comes from continued “individual” development, and so working on my own game is also very important to me.

I have learned that you can do all the work in the preseason – train four times a week in the weights room and on the running track, but at the end of the day, you need to have faith in yourself and believe that you can make a real impact at this level.

Over the last two years I have had the opportunity to develop down back and in front of goals.

I have had games where I have really impacted the contests, and others where I have struggled to get much of the ball or been unable to quell the influence of a certain player.

Each of my 48 games have been tremendous learning experiences; and while I have plenty of development still to come, I am becoming more and more comfortable as I approach 50 games.

You often hear coaches talk about players feeling more at home after their first 50 games, and while it is hard to fully appreciate the sentiment, now that I am a couple games shy of that mark I can appreciate the milestone.

But even as I edge closer to the next stage of my AFL career, I don’t think anyone should feel comfortable at any stage, and should always stay on edge. Continuing to work hard should be the cornerstone no matter what.

With Brendan Bolton as my senior coach, he has been an tremendous influence helping me not just to identify my weaknesses, but to also understand what my strengths are and how I can continue to improve in those areas as well.

My contest marking, reading the play and use of ball are strong attributes of my mine, but I have noticed that my preparation before games are key to how I perform on game day.

Recovery has become an absolute focus point following my summer visit to the world-renowned Aspire Academy sports science facility in Doha, Qatar.

Our club physio and I spent five days working with some of the best high performance specialists in the world – my left shoulder has always required attention, having suffered a subluxation and other partial dislocations.

The tour to Qatar was all about finding out ways how I can best recover and repair my body, in a bid to get my shoulders in the best possible shape.

Many of the techniques and learnings we took away from the high performance camp, I have taken and put into my day-to-day routine.

My approach to recovery and preparation has changed significantly, but I am confident those changes will aid in my performances this season.