Life on the edge of selection isn’t easy.
But nothing in football has come easy to Bailey Banfield.
The 24-year-old has played all eight games this year but most of those outings have seen him relegated to the medical sub.
In the games he’s started as a fully-fledged member of Fremantle’s 22, he’s had an impact.
His best performance of the season came against North Melbourne on Friday night in the absence of Matt Taberner and Rory Lobb.
Banfield kicked 2.3 and while he was inaccurate after the first quarter, he added 18 disposals, eight marks and five tackles to finish as one of Fremantle’s better performers.
But a strong performance doesn’t deliver any guarantees in a Dockers’ side that finished Friday night 7-1 and on top of the AFL ladder.
“I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see,” Banfield said.
“It would’ve been nice to kick five goals. That might’ve locked my spot in.
“Life on the edge of selection isn’t easy.
“I played my role, created opportunities and kicking them will come. I’m really confident in the process I’ve been going through.
“A few of the boys went out fairly early and I’ve been the one on the edge, that 23rd man so I was pretty confident once a few forwards went down, my named would be called.”
The sub role has presented it’s challenges but the most Banfield can do is prepare as if he’s going to play.
“It’s a tough role to play because your fortune means someone else’s misfortune which you obviously never want,” he said.
“You’ve got to prepare to play as if you were starting the game. I’ve gotten on a few times but other times I haven’t so it’s a roll of the dice.
“If you do get on, you just have to make the most of your opportunity.
“Two weeks ago, I got on against Carlton in the last quarter but had to go and get some game time in at Peel the next day.
“Going to bed late after a night game… It was pretty tough and then having to drive down to Mandurah the next day.
“It’s not just during the week. It’s on game day as well. You’ve got a role to play.”
That role extends off-field, where Banfield has found ways to be just as involved in Fremantle’s success.
“You become a bit of a conjugate between the coach and players as well on the bench,” he said.
“Messaging directly from your peers means a lot to players as opposed to over the phone so that keeps me connected to the game.
“You’re thinking about the game and you’re head is in the game, not drifting off. That’s helped me when I do get on, it feels like I’m playing a normal game of footy.”
The success of Fremantle’s forward line has also ensured Banfield’s transition in and out of the side has been seamless.
The Dockers’ attack has evolved significantly under new assistant coach Jaymie Graham and each role is clearly defined, giving Banfield certainty whenever he gets his chance.
“We’re a very cohesive unit. We’ve got a lot of smart footballers in there,” he said.
“We all know our role and can help set each other up. Across four quarter, we haven’t been letting up our relentless pressure.
“A couple of years in JL’s system helps and now everyone knows their role back to front.
“Those minor adjustments we make on game day are really easy to make because we know we’re 95 per cent there with the role, it’s just making little tweaks depending on the opposition and state of the game.”