Bernie Vince has rejected the public picture of him as Adelaide's party boy, describing himself as a committed team man desperate to play a part in helping the club to a third premiership.
In a week where alcohol-driven incidents have seen Collingwood's Dane Swan and Western Bulldog Tom Liberatore suspended by their clubs, Vince said reports of his off-field habits were exaggerated.
In 2010, Vince was banned by the Adelaide leadership group when he and teammate Matthew Jaensch stayed out late in Melbourne after a Friday night game. He also made headlines after a late night at Adelaide Casino where his mates were evicted at 6am.
Earlier this season, he was given a deferred suspension and forced to buy Crows fans 60 tickets to the NAB Cup grand final after stripping to his underpants in a hotel during a cricket club celebration with friends on the Yorke Peninsula.
Vince tore the heart out of West Coast's midfield in his 100th game just three weeks ago with 25 possessions and four goals.
He looms as a major threat against Fremantle at AAMI Stadium tomorrow.
The 26-year-old said there were certain boundaries that could not be crossed as a player, but he also believed it was important to stay true to his personality.
"Coming from Yorke Peninsula, I've got a lot of mates back there and I try to keep myself real," Vince said.
"I'd hate to ever think that I've changed or they thought I'd changed. But in saying that, you can't be like them because you're in the spotlight a little bit.
"The times that I've been in trouble have been minor incidents, but in a small town like Adelaide it gives the media something to talk about. It creates a big story out of not much and it's not like I've ever broken the law.
"But I've realised there's always someone watching and I've got to make sure I behave myself. You've got to look at the big picture and realise that the sacrifices you're making are for a huge thing that you're working towards.
"The ultimate is playing in a grand final and winning it and there's all these little sacrifices you make along the way to put yourself in a position to be able to do that. At the end of the day, it's all worth it.
"I know it's a big thing the way people see you outside the club, but I care about what the coach and assistant coaches think.
"There are things people say about you outside the club that you hear about or people tell you about whether I've done something or not. I tend not to read too much into it.
"I'm driven by success and I want to see the Adelaide footy club have some success. We've had a bit of a taste of finals and we sort of took it for granted and just thought it was going to happen each year.
"The last couple of years we've missed out so to get the opportunity this year is a massive thing. The opportunities don't come around that often and you get to the point where you realise you have to make the most of those opportunities.
"I'm a pretty laid-back, casual sort of fella, but when it comes to on the field I'm definitely driven by wanting to have success with the boys at the club."
Vince was drafted from SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens with pick No.32 in the 2005 national draft. He won the Crows' best and fairest after a breakout season in 2009 and also represented Australia in last year's series against Ireland.
He said he had an acute awareness of his more senior standing in the team and it was a fact he had embraced.
"I'm one of the oldest now when I look around the change rooms," he said. "People say I look a lot younger than I am and I'm hoping that stays with me for a while.
"But certainly with more experience comes more responsibility to teach the new guys coming through.
"I enjoy teaching, as much as I'm still learning myself, and get a real thrill out of seeing the younger guys do well. That's slowly coming into my game and I guess that will increase more over the next few years.
"In footy, you never know when your time is up and you can be just one injury away from your career finishing. So you don't want to leave anything in the tank and that's what all the sacrifices are for along the way."
Vince said the coaching transition from Neil Craig to Brenton Sanderson had been smooth.
While Craig's strict structures had taught him a lot about the game, he had personally thrived on Sanderson's fresh and direct game style which allowed the Crows to play more on instinct.
Vince said the battle with Fremantle was a chance for the Crows to set up their finals campaign.The times that I've been in trouble have been minor incidents, but in a small town like Adelaide it gives the media something to talk about." *Bernie Vince *