Paul Chapman says he feels younger thanks to a big pre-season
GEELONG veteran Paul Chapman has resolved to enjoy the coming season rather than be weighed down by the fact it might be his last campaign at the highest level.
The 31-year-old, who has played 243 games since making his debut with the Cats in 2000, has only a one-year contract, and he will have to perform well to extend his glittering career into 2014.
"At the moment everything's going great," Chapman told AFL.com.au
"I'm just enjoying the year, I'm having fun, and who knows if it's going to be my last year or not.
"I think you can put too much pressure on yourself, and I think that once upon a time I may have been that person.
"But what fun is that? I think if I have fun it will bring the best out in me anyway, and the rest will take care of itself."
Chapman made no secret of his desire to gain a two-year contract when he was in the midst of his negotiations with Geelong last year.
But the club held firm and he eventually settled for a one-year deal.
"It's over now, it is what it is, so I've dealt with it," Chapman said.
"Obviously, it would have been nice to get two years, but I didn't. Things like that happen and you have to get over it.
"I could have got all bitter and stuff, but what's the point?
"I love footy and I love the Geelong footy club and I didn't want to stuff the club around.
"I think we came to an arrangement that was good for both parties. And it's still open – it's not necessarily a case of me playing this year and then I'm done.
"So I'm happy. It could be my last year and I want to have fun.
"If I do leave at the end of the year, then I want to be able to say it was the most fun year that I've had."
Chapman has set himself up to make an impact in 2013 by turning back the clock during the Cats' pre-season.
He has run a personal best for a two-kilometre time-trial and has been in the thick of the action during the club's competitive training sessions against North Melbourne.
"I feel younger again," Chapman said. "Pre-season has been hard, and there have been times when I've thought, 'This is getting too hard.'
"But the benefits of the hard work are showing on the training track at the moment. I just need that to show out in games during the season.
"I've put myself in a good place, and that's all I could've done so far. Where I stand at the moment, I'm very happy with it."
Regardless of whether this proves to be Chapman's last AFL season or not, he has already spent plenty of time setting himself up for life after footy.
"I've done all the theory of my building apprenticeship, so I've got a couple of years left on-site to get that all sorted," he said.
"I haven't done it for a little while, so I've got to get back into that and keep it ticking over.
"But I love building, so that's a great option."
A three-time premiership player, who won Geelong's best and fairest in 2006 and took home the 2009 Norm Smith Medal, Chapman is also keen to stay involved in the game that he loves.
"I'm definitely interested in coaching," he said. "I'd love to be a coach – not sure if I'll try to get a job straight away or have a year out of the game.
"But coaching is definitely on the cards as well."
Paul Chapman is a $502,600 forward/midfielder in AFL Fantasy. Register your team at the AFL Fantasy hub.
Adam McNicol covers Geelong news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter at @AFL_AdamMcNicol