Category: Feature Articles

Fast and fierce Huynh embodies Centrals’ spirit

SHE may be small, but packs a punch. Central District forward Laitiah Huynh is a prospect who personifies everything great about her side’s style; pace, an attacking mindset, and ferocity in the tackle.

The 17-year-old has cut her teeth throughout the South Australian pathway, rising the ranks via her state’s Under 16s, and Under 18s squads over the past three years. She has proven a perfect fit for Bulldogs’ senior side since debuting in 2019, harnessing her competitive edge with help from her Centrals family.

“I used to be really hesitant for the ball but with Centrals, they just go for everything so I’m in everything now – or I try to be,” Huynh said. “It made me a more fierce player. “(My coaches and teammates) always help me. Most of them are like my family now, I love them all… at the start it was really nerve-racking because I was the youngest one in the whole team, but they supported me and helped me through it.”

In such a tumultuous year for budding AFL Women’s draftees, the theme of family has helped Huynh come out the other side a better for it. With her release, football, taken away from her amid a global pandemic, the youngster sought to connect the best support network possible.

“I just surrounded myself with my family and friends, mainly my family because I couldn’t really see anyone else,” she said. “But it was hard because I didn’t really have anything to do and footy is usually what I did to get my mind off other things.

“I thought it was going to impact my performance when we came back. I wasn’t sure how well I’d perform because we didn’t really get to train as a team. “My dad’s crazy about my football so he’s just the biggest support ever. (Mum and Dad) come to all my games, they took me everywhere before I had my licence so it’s been really good.”

The lingering unknown was compounded by Huynh’s juggling act of high-level football, Year 12 schooling, casual work, and interests outside all those realms, forcing somewhat of a squeeze on her priorities. But not for long, as she hit the ground running and prospered upon a return to normality.

“I did miss a few trainings because of school, because I was just trying to keep on top of everything,” she said. “But it’s gone better now, I’ve almost finished. “The season came back (during) the important part of school, so I was just a bit stressed out but I just cut my casual work a bit and just did school and footy. “I bought heaps of things off Gumtree and just trained at home. “We had a group chat so we all sent in different activities (and) exercises to do at home, rather than a gym.”

The improvisation paid off, as Huynh impressed throughout her second South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s campaign, while also recently running out in her state’s Under 18 All-Star showcase. Having already proven her worth as a forward, the speedy small was utilised further afield late in the season, and during her representative hitout.

“I’m a bit smaller so I’ve mostly stuck to the forwardline this season,” she said. “I was also chucked on the wing for a couple of games and everyone thinks I’d be better on the wing because I’m fast. “With practice I think I’ll get better at it, I do want to learn the wing more.

“I think I did alright (in the All-Stars game). “I got put on the wing and I went forward for a little bit but the ball wasn’t really coming down when I was there. “But it was heaps fun because all the girls were obviously the best talent in SA, so we were all skilful and it was a good experience.”

The opportunity to play at such a high level against her peers somewhat made up for a lack of a national carnival in 2020, which Huynh says she wishes she could have experienced again in her top-age year. Having transitioned into football at around age 12, she has also observed the expansion of such pathways.

“It was my last year so obviously I would have wished to have a National Championships,” she said. “All in all, you can’t really help what happened but it was a good experience. “Most of my SA friends were in the All-Stars game anyway, I’d played with them for the last couple of years, so it was a good experience to be alongside them again.

“When I started I don’t think there was an AFLW team (in South Australia) but I think when everyone heard that there would be, they just jumped straight into footy and ever since then, with all the different pathways and activities that are put on for everyone to join in, they’ve really gained the skill and experience from all of that.”

As a supporter of the Adelaide’s successful women’s side, Huynh admits playing for the Crows “would be the dream” come draft time, but is happy to move anywhere given she has family all around Australia. Looking forward, Huynh is working on her contested game, especially marking, while also seeking to build her fitness and strength to suit AFLW level.

Should the ultimate dream not come to fruition this year, the fast-developing prospect is happy to hone her craft with help from the Central District family.

Featured Image: Huynh representing South Australia at the 2019 Under 18 National Championships | Source: Dean Martin/The Advertiser

Halfpenny continues Norwood family legacy in search of dream

TALENTED forward Jade Halfpenny never thought of herself as following her father Warren into Australian rules football, but her switch from basketball to Australian rules football enabled her to become one of a number of special family ties in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

A number of players made their debuts in Round 1 of 2020 donning the colours that their famous fathers did such as Bek Rasheed (North Adelaide) and Shelby Smith (Central District). But then 17-years-old Halfpenny was the youngest of the trio and she could hardly believe her luck at being selected.

It was pretty exciting,” Halfpenny said. “It’s not something I really expected or ever really considered until the past year or so but it was always kind of assumed that my younger brother would be the one to go on and do that so it was pretty exciting and hopefully he can get up there too.”

Her journey through football has been relatively recent compared to many other South Australian State Under 18s Academy members, having only played for a few years, but made a rapid rise through the pathway.

I started in 2017 at Golden Grove Football Club,” Halfpenny said. “I played in the Under 16s there for a couple years and then I started playing in the A-Grade and then through that I was doing the Under 17s Development Squad at Norwood. “Then last year was my third year in the development squad and they asked me to come out for the senior side so I started with them and then played every round this season in the SANFL and from that went into the Under 18s State squad.”

Naming North Adelaide and Crows star Anne Hatchard as her toughest opponent this season, Halfpenny admitted it was “pretty intimidating” knowing some of the players she would come up against in the SANFL Women’s competition.

“You know some of the legacies that were in there, but I guess everyone is there for a reason and I just had to keep reminding myself that I could do it and I can put it up to them and it’s really an honour with and against them,” she said.

Not expecting to play a game, Halfpenny instead did not miss one, playing all 11 games including the cutthroat finals loss to West Adelaide. In those games, the strong marking forward was able to roam between midfield and the forward 50, rarely losing a one-on-one contest. Along with her football, Halfpenny has always been an active basketball player, something she believes helps lend itself to the game of Aussie rules.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was six I think, so a long time,” she said. “It has always been the plan to kind of see as far as I can go with that and then footy came into the picture. “I still play basketball but footy’s more of the priority now. “Basketball has obviously helped footy with the athleticism and contact and the body strength has been really helpful with footy.

“I think one major thing is handling the ball,” she said. “I’ve been told that I look like a basketballer when I go for a mark. “That’s just the ability to take a mark and grab the ball and intercept and stuff like that has come from basketball. “As well as just the body strength, just holding an opponent and using your body to defend.”

Halfpenny’s strength is her marking, though she said she is always looking to improve even further, but her ability to read the ball in flight and position herself well also helps. As for what she is looking to improve on, the Norwood teenager was blunt.

Everything honestly,” Halfpenny said. “I’d like to get fitter which obviously that aids with everything. Just getting a bit more precise with my kicking. “A bit further kicks, shorter kicks, body strength, yeah everything.”

While she might be keen to build a more consistent game, Halfpenny has been regarded as one to watch for the future given her rapid improvement in a short space of time. She is also not the first player to cross from basketball to football, and an inspiration of hers is an elite player who made the same transition.

“I never really followed football specifically a lot growing up but I looked up a lot to Erin Phillips more in basketball when I was younger because she was obviously a big basketballer and now she’s gone over to footy,” Halfpenny said. “But also my dad as well. “Looking at what he’s done and just seeing what he’s been able to do.”

Unlike other State Academy members, Halfpenny is a relatively newcomer to the squad, named in the Under 18s squad that would have played at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships if it had gone ahead. While it did not, Halfpenny said it was still “pretty humbling” to be included with so many other talented players.

“Pretty exciting,” Halfpenny said. “It wasn’t until then that I sort of realised maybe what I could achieve and what I could do and some of the girls that were in that were obviously incredible footballers and being able to train alongside them was a pretty humbling experience but a great learning opportunity.”

Picture: Supplied

Like most people around the country, Halfpenny’s top-age year was suddenly thrown into uncertainty, with the COVID-19 pandemic postponing the SANFL Women’s season for a few months. It did not stop the teenager – who turned 18 during the postponed period – from training and making sure she did not miss a beat.

“I was running a lot,” Halfpenny said. “Up the hills and that kind of thing. “I also had a program from the state team that they wanted us to follow so that was a lot of fitness, ball skills and that kind of stuff. “I was mostly going out and training with my brother – my younger brother – and my dad. “So it was good to have them to help me out. “It was tough, but it was tough for everyone.”

Norwood has undergone plenty of chance over the last 12 to 18 months, with Halfpenny one of a number of new players joining the side. With so many fresh faces it might have been difficult to gel at first, but Halfpenny said it made the transition easier for her.

It was good because obviously I was new, but I wasn’t the only new person,” she said. “Being one of the youngest I was a bit nervous and a bit intimidated but having that new group as well as some of the older players to pull it all together was really helpful. “All the older girls were really lovely and the team was one big family now, and it’s a very inclusive environment and I’m very happy to be.”

Running out at the SANFL Women’s All-Stars clash, Halfpenny is among the top up and coming talents in South Australia. Whilst she might have less experience than some others, she has already made great strides in her development. Like many of her peers, she dreams of playing at the elite level, but is still amazed at her accomplishments thus far, and will just take it all in her stride. She said she wanted to be “the best version” of herself and that was all that mattered.

“I never thought I’d be able to do what I’ve already done and so if this was as far as I got then I would be happy with that,” Halfpenny said. “But to get the furthest I can and maybe if I can have a shot at AFLW would be a dream, but at the end of the day I’m happy with what I’ve done and if that’s as far as I get, then that’s as far as I get.”

Competitive Morriss loving community aspect of SANFL Women’s

FOR 18-year-old Tamsyn Morriss, her football journey has been interrupted in patches but overall had a speedy rise through the ranks from a junior level. Starting out at Auskick and limited in her pursuit after a couple of years, Morriss did not give in and returned to Aussie rules after exploring other sports.

“I’ve grown up in like a sporting type of family, my dad played footy. As far as growing up, my mum played netball so I’ve obviously got a lot of sporting genes in there,” Morriss said. “It was obviously dad that made me start footy so I started up Auskick when I was five at my dad’s local club… did two years of Auskick and then there was no pathway for girls back then, so I went and played soccer with the boys. 

“Then when I found out that I can play with the boys at footy I jumped back over to Lonsdale. “That’s where it kind of all started, playing under 10s and under 12s with the boys and then I moved over to girls footy at Kenilworth Football Club.”

Despite all the moving around early on in her football journey, Morriss found herself in the unprecedented position of being a 15-year-old on the edge of a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s berth with Glenelg.

“I then got asked to train with the Glenelg women’s team as a 15 year old, one training I got asked if I wanted to play a game, obviously, with my parents permission, being a 15 year old playing against women. “And that’s when it all started with Glenelg. This upcoming season will be my fourth season with them.”

While Morriss has a focus on football, her past experience with other sports has certainly assisted in her skillset on the footy field, allowing her to utilise and adapt her game depending on what is required of her.

“I did a little bit of little athletics… I had to stop because obviously my footy was blowing up. And I was also involved with surf lifesaving,” she said. “So soccer, obviously it’s a team sport, kicking around a ball you kick around a ball in football as well. I reckon from little athletics I definitely got fitness, got running technique from there, and then the surf lifesaving, was extra fitness as well. I still do that… training and obviously doing patrols as well.”

While Morriss enjoyed – and still enjoys, in some cases – participating in a range of sports, the Glenelg talent says that the competitiveness and community around football is what drew her back to the sport. 

“I definitely have to say, the competitiveness of it and like, the community around it,” Morriss said. “You have so many people around you and people like you. “So it’s hard to leave it. “Yeah, the competitiveness is what I like as well, competing for the ball, competing against each other.”

With some quality talent not only heading up through the pathways but also already making waves at AFL Women’s level, Morriss says she looks to the experienced names in the SANFL system, inspired by their work ethic and skills.

“I have to say, Nikki Gore and Anne Hatchard,” Morriss said. “So I knew them, well I knew Anne before she got big humongous muscles and super super fit, that’s definitely inspired me, so that’s why I’ve been working on strength and fitness as well. “But obviously Nikki Gore, she’s just a great friend. “And she definitely pushes me along the way on and off the field.”

When it comes to strengths and improvements, Morriss suggested her fitness as a focus, with strength critical especially as the level progresses given the continued development of quality players across not just the state but also the country as women’s football continues to grow.

“At the moment, I’m working on strength and fitness. “So I can run longer, be on the ground for longer and compete better with some of the bigger girls out there. Hold my ground a bit more,” she said. 

“Some of my strengths I have to say, work ethic. “Yeah, and competitiveness, I’m working on that… game sense as well. “So reading the ball, using the ball well when I can. “And using the ball well around my teammates.”

Morriss participated in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships up in Queensland, playing two games for the Central Allies. Still just a middle-ager last year, Morriss was looking to showcase her ability in 2020.

“That was a great experience, it was one of my favourite footy trips away. Just the connections I made with some of the girls, obviously playing with some of the girls from South Australia and then meeting new people from Northern Territory… It was an experience I’ve never done before, but definitely would have liked to do it again,” she said.

“One of my good family friends, Montana McKinnon, I actually grew up with her. “So it was great to play with her one last time. “And then also, obviously, there’s Jaimi Tabb, she just got drafted. “Maddie Newman as well, Hannah Munyard, it was great to play along those girls and then obviously the upcoming girls going up for the draft, Teah Charlton and then like Indy Tahau, it was great to play with them because I’ve obviously played against most of those girls, so it’s good to be on the same team for once.”

While the 2020 championships did not go ahead due to COVID-19 limitations, Morriss instead showcased her talents with a solid performance at the SANFLW All-Stars last week.

Shanara Notman – Grasping opportunity through adversity

GIPPSLAND Power prospect Shanara Notman is somewhat of a coach’s dream; versatile, raw, hard-working, and made of leadership material. The 19-year-old narrowly missed out on being drafted last year, and had pegged her 2020 campaign as one which would help garner the experience and game sense required to make the step-up to an AFL Women’s list.

Setbacks have come thick and fast for Notman and her fellow draft hopefuls in a rollercoaster year, but the talented tall has formed a habit of making good on each opportunity to arise across her young footballing career.

She hyperextended her knee five minutes into last year’s NAB League season, but recovered in time to warrant selection in the Vic Country Under 18 squad. It was during the weeklong carnival in Queensland where Notman thrust her name into draft contention, swinging up forward and even through the ruck after cutting her teeth off half-back for Gippsland.

Being overlooked from those dizzying heights would have put many AFLW hopefuls on the back foot, but not Notman.

“Straight after the draft I quickly contacted Chelsea Caple, our talent manager at (Gippsland) Power,” Notman said. “Less than an hour after the draft, my permit for the 2020 season had been approved for Power, so I was going to go in as a 19-year-old. We had an awesome preseason this year and I put in so much effort to get there.”

The effort looked to be paying off, as Notman, with VFLW and representative experience under her belt, returned a couple of outstanding performances at the start of this year’s NAB League competition. But with that season, along with every other league across Victoria written off in due course, Notman found herself facing yet another hurdle.

“We got two games in this year, we had an awesome camp run by our coach, Scotty (Armour)… but since the news about not playing anymore, then hopefully playing later in the year, which obviously got cancelled too, it’s been a bit heartbreaking,” she said.

Notman (left) in action for Vic Country during the 2019 AFLW Under 18 National Championships

Notman is a talented multi-sport athlete, though the art of hurdling has become more of a mental battle in such “chaotic” times.

“To stay motivated, it’s been full of ups and down this year,” she said. “I’ve been fully committed to going to the gym or going for a kick with a few mates who are local and play VFL with us (in line with COVID-19 lockdown regulations of the time). “But it’s an incredibly difficult time, especially because you’ve got to rely on yourself, not your teammates and coaching staff to keep you motivated.”

With lockdown restrictions eased in regional Victoria in mid-September, Notman says she “can’t wait” to get back to some form of normality and group training as soon as possible.

“I find it easier to train with a group of girls than to train by myself, it just keeps you more motivated,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to have one of my best mates, Breanna Pratt, she plays with me at VFL and she lives really close-by so I can go for a kick with her. I’ve got a home gym set up just to keep fit, too.”

“I’m a really social person… I always chat to the Power girls, just helping out the younger ones. “I’m looking forward even in the future to going back down to Power, helping out there and doing whatever I can to help the girls out.”

As the second-eldest member of Gippsland Power’s current squad, Notman has naturally become a leader among the group – despite only featuring in the elite footballing pathway for two years. Having leant on the likes of Daisy Pearce and Gippsland Power graduate, Tyla Hanks during her time at the Casey Demons, the youngster was especially driven to set an example at the start of her over-age NAB League campaign. Earning the vice-captain tag only made it official.

“I was lucky enough to be named the vice-captain of Power this year alongside Grace McRae, who was our captain,” she said. “I was really putting in with that leadership role as I was (one of) the oldest girls on the team – me and Leyla Berry were the over-agers. I was putting in the effort to lead the girls because we’ve got some 15-year-olds and a pretty young group. It was a really exciting time.”

“Girls like Tyla Hanks from the Power, she’s awesome… I trained with the Melbourne girls at the start of the year, with Daisy Pearce and that. They’re great leaders and they help all the NAB League girls come through. They’re just amazing.”

Shanara Notman in action for Gippsland Power. Source: AFL Media

Given Casey’s ties to Melbourne’s AFLW side, Notman has jumped on the Demons’ bandwagon in support of her VFLW teammates, as her beloved Hawthorn does not yet lay claim to a women’s team. But it’s not just players who have mentored Notman throughout her path less travelled by, as the aforementioned Caple, Armour, and former Gippsland Power stalwart, Peter Francis have also played big roles in seeing her through to this point.

“I’m always in contact with Chelsea Caple and Scotty Armour,” she said. “They’re really good mentors for me, they’ve always been there for the last two years and they’ve really encouraged me to be my best… staff like Peter Francis really helped me get into footy, he was a big help at (Gippsland) Power.”

“At Casey I’ve got our assistant coach Troy Hemming, he’s from Warragul so I’m always giving him a call to go for a kick here and there and just catch up.”

As for the ideal path forward, Notman is looking to harness her versatility and play as high a level of football as possible. There lies somewhat of a Plan B as well, as the 19-year-old plies her trade full-time as a support trainee at Drouin Secondary College in the PE and sport and recreation realms.

“The ideal path will obviously be to start playing footy again next year. But my overall goal will be to one day just play footy at the highest level possible and just enjoy footy,” she said.

“I feel like my best position would be running off half-back. Especially at the Power this year, that really benefitted me… (but) it’s really exciting to be versatile and just play wherever the coach wants you to play.”

“If the draft doesn’t go as I hope this year, hopefully VFL actually goes ahead next year and I’ll just keep playing at Casey because I’m really enjoying that.”

At the time of writing, the 2020 AFLW combine testing and All-Stars game in Victoria were cancelled, leaving the October 6 draft as Notman’s next major point of call.

Favell’s sacrifices worth it for chance at AFL Women’s

WHEN talking about sacrifices made to play Aussie rules football, there is not much that Murray Bushrangers and Eastern Allies’ Abby Favell has not done to pursue her dream of playing AFL Women’s. 

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Abby Favell

“I started playing AFL in a primary school competition called ‘Paul Kelly Cup’ in year 5 and 6,” Favell said. “There was no outside of school competitions for girls in my area and there still isn’t today! “Once I got to high school I played in my school team, filled with girls that just wanted to give the sport a go or get out of school for a couple of days. In year 8 I was asked to go trial for CCC and was lucky enough to be selected.”

With significant road trips to and from not only games but also training, there is no denying that Favell is committed to making her dream a reality and has had a huge football journey that has led her to where she is today.

“During the pre-season and in-season, my parents drive me three hours (one-way) once or twice a week just to get to training in Wangaratta,” she said. “Playing in Melbourne meant a six-hour drive and an overnight stay which was taking a lot of time out of their lives just so that they could let me play the game that I love. “The travel for me isn’t so bad as I’m not the one driving and now with a few more girls from the Leeton area playing with the Bushies, the road trips are very eventful with weekly competitions on who could provide the best snacks. “The commitment wasn’t easy but many amazing people made it possible.”

“Football for me is just something different. “It is a game that allows me to run around with very few restrictions which is what I enjoy most. “With a lot of experience in other sports and other pathways, football has been the one that has made me look forward to going to camps and the one that has given me the best experience. I also love the bit of contact that you don’t really get in other sports.”

Like many, Favell has had her setbacks – missing out on selection and making tough decisions about other sports – but says that she has come out of it stronger, credit to her drive to continue to build her game but also fulfil her commitment to the sport.

“At the next level, trialling for NSW, everyone from my school that trialled was selected, except for my friend and I,” Favell said. “It was a setback in my football journey but it just made me stronger as I went away and trained harder to be selected in the team the next year. “After playing for NSW at the school nationals in Perth, I was certain that I wanted to play AFL.

“In 2018, I was selected through the Southern Sports Academy to play for NSW against VIC in under 16s. “The Bushrangers also asked me to play a few games for them at the end of the season. “In 2019, the Bushrangers asked me to join them for a full pre-season and I was honoured to be selected which resulted in the tough decision to give up the many other sports I was playing. “But luckily it was the right decision as this led to my selection in the NSW team and the Eastern Allies under 18 teams as a bottom-age player.”

When it comes to her footy journey, Favell’s consistency in the Murray Bushrangers saw her get a bottom-age berth at the AFL Women’s Under 18s National Championships, recording an average of 11.0 disposals, 2.7 marks and 2.7 tackles for the Eastern Allies and finding her footing against many familiar Murray faces who took the field for Vic Country. 

“Playing in the Eastern Allies team was an experience that I didn’t really know what to expect and it was one like no other,” Favell said. “The girls on my team were absolutely amazing and made the on field and off-field time fun. Playing against my Bushies team mates was actually really fun but very different.”

Playing against strong opposition from across the country, Favell proved that she could handle the pressure and used her clean hands and high work rate to impact both on and off the ball. Her efforts across both the NAB League competition and Under 18s Championships saw Favell entered into the AFL Women’s Academy, participating in training camps with the Academy squad.

“I remember the phone call and feeling very shocked,” she said. “I definitely thought that Ash (Moeller, AFL NSW/ACT Female Talent Manager) was just telling me he put my name in but nothing was certain. “The academy camp in Darwin was definitely not easy but overall it was a lot of fun and I learnt a lot that has and will help me along my football journey. “We had spent a week training with the GIANTS beforehand and that was certainly something that I am never going to forget as I was privileged to meet so many amazing players and people.”

Speaking of players Favell felt privileged to meet, GIANTS midfielder Alyce Parker has had a profound impact on the youngster, and is someone that Favell says she admires both on and off the field.

“She is an amazing player that is always working hard and trying to become better,” Favell said. “As a rural girl, she has shown me that anything is possible and it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s the opportunities that you make. “Not only is she an absolute gun but she is also a wonderful person as she has also taken time out of her day to message me or stay in touch.”

A speedster with the ability to rotate through a number of positions – though ultimately looking most comfortable winning ball through the midfield – Favell also has clean hands to win the ball across the field and has great run and carry in transition credit to her endurance and never say die attitude.

“My strengths I feel would be my running and decision making skills,” she said. “I have been a cross-country runner and I guess a combination of all my other sports has enabled me to love to run and cover a lot of the ground… I’ve been focusing on doing the basics really well like taking the ball cleanly with my ground balls and giving it off on the up, hitting targets by both hand and foot. “I completed the NAB League training program we were all given and continued to work on the basic fundamentals, kicking, clean hands, ground balls etc along with playing netball and training with my local footy team.”

Favell said that while her commitment to her football dream has certainly impacted on her studies and other commitments, she has managed to balance it fairly well with plenty of commitment and strategies in place to ensure her schoolwork did not suffer.

“My strategy was to complete assignments and homework on the road between training or games as it was my only free time,” she said. “It was challenging when we were in the middle of nowhere with no service … but I managed to make it work and hand all my assessments in on time, just. “My family and friends mean a lot to me and they understand just as much as I do the commitment that I’ve made as I have had to miss my best friend’s birthday and my grandparents anniversary, just to name a few, due to playing or training. “I try my best to keep everyone happy but those that mean most to me understand the dedication I have made and usually save me a piece of cake.”

Verrier set for a Thunderous September

FOOTBALL has always been a constant for Peel Thunder youngster Sarah Verrier. Unlike many other potential AFLW draftees who were introduced to footy later in life, Verrier has been involved in the sport for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve been playing football since I was in Auskick,” Verrier said. “I was about five years old and have been through it all with my family, so that’s how it started off and I just kept going.”

Sporting ability runs deep in Verrier’s DNA, as her three older siblings have all made their own mark in different fields.

“My eldest brother Steven got drafted to Richmond back in 2012 and played there for a bit as a rookie,” she said. “My sister Haylee is pretty good with boxing and went to the World Championships for that, and my other brother Brendan played football locally for South Freo but was forced to stop due to concussion symptoms – he is now a personal trainer and loves doing that.”

Steven was taken by Richmond at pick 43 of the 2012 Rookie Draft and was at the club until the end of 2013. Going through the AFL experience has made him a great person for Verrier to turn to for advice.

“[Steven] has taught me to love the game,” she said. “If you want to get somewhere, you have to work for it, it’s not just going to come to you.” “He says the AFL experience is hard work, and you just have to do the work.”

Verrier’s parents have also been incredibly supportive of her AFLW dream.

“My dad has been training me and helping develop my footy, and my mum has been taking me to trainings and letting me do what I love doing,” Verrier said. “They have both been a massive support for my career and I appreciate them a lot.”

Verrier initially played the sport to engage with friends, but eventually her enjoyment of the game took over.

“At the start, the friends and social side of footy was what appealed to me, but now I just love the sport and the people around me love the sport as well,” she said.

Like a lot of other girls, Verrier was forced to play mixed competition at a young age to develop her craft. She played for the Kwinana Knights, who did not have a girls team at the time.

“I started with the boys, but had to stop when I was about 11 or 12,” she said. “I went in the girls competition from there with a move to Peel [Thunder]. “Luckily Peel had a girls team at the time!”

Verrier has stayed loyal to Peel through her whole junior career and appreciates what the club has done for her.

“Peel have helped me a lot with how I play my footy and, especially being there since I was 12, I have stuck around and a couple of the girls that I started with are still around as well,” she said. “Everyone still loves it.”

Verrier is a member of the 2020 National Women’s Academy and has previously represented her state at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, an experience that she treasured.

“It was amazing,” she said. “Not a lot of people get to compete on an AFL-sized ground like Metricon, especially girls, so having that experience was great.”

With kicking ability and footy smarts being Verrier’s two biggest on-field strengths, there is an obvious position that she is suited to.

“I’d say half-back is my best position, it’s where I’m playing at the moment,” she said.

Being a Fremantle supporter for AFLW, Kiara Bowers is a major inspiration for Verrier given the physical and mental challenges she went through en route to becoming the elite player that she is today.

“She’s been through a couple of knee reconstructions and was unable to play for a while,” Verrier said. “Her pushing to get that first AFLW game thanks to her commitment through those years is why I’d say she’s my biggest inspiration.”

When asked what the future holds for Verrier and her footy, there was only one possible answer.

“AFLW is where I want to get to,” she said. “I’ve been dreaming since I was five years old and hopefully soon I’ll get there.”

At this stage, Fremantle and West Coast appear to be her options.

“I’m happy to stay in Perth and stick fat with my family, maybe later on I can start thinking about moving and that kind of stuff, but for now I would be happy to stay here,” she said.

For the next month, Verrier’s AFLW dream is on the backburner as she is focused on trying to win a premiership at Peel. Her side went into the final round fifth on the ladder, but a tight nine-point win over Claremont propelled them to second spot. This will be their first finals series in the WAFL women’s competition.

“In the last year we’ve come from the bottom of the ladder and now we’ve finished second, so we’ve been happy with the improvement and it’s been fun, just playing footy and being able to win some games,” she said. “All the girls are loving it and hopefully we can keep it going and get to the grand final.”

Peel faces minor premiers Subiaco for a chance to play in the decider. The Lions got the better of Peel three weeks ago by just over a goal, but Verrier has faith that her side can get the job done.

“We only just lost to them, so we are pretty confident going into this week’s game on Sunday afternoon.”

Verrier was among those named to test in the AFL Draft Combine, which will be held on September 30 in Western Australia.

For more AFLW news, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Resilience through recovery sees Powell reap benefits in SANFL

STURT midfielder Tom Powell has taken the SANFL under-18 competition by the scruff of the neck so far in season 2020. In doing so, the teenager has announced himself as one of South Australia’s most promising draft hopefuls. As of Round 10, the inside midfielder is averaging a competition-high 36 disposals and nine clearances per game, for a Sturt side currently sitting at the top of the Under 18s ladder. Powell’s football journey has followed a traditional pathway, enrolling in Auskick at a young age before eventually joining the underage ranks at the Unley Jets, the same junior club as Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy and Richmond bigman Callum Coleman-Jones.

“I began playing school football when I moved to Scotch College in Year 8 and played right up to Year 12,” Powell said, who first donned the iconic double blue of Sturt at under-13s level. “Playing as a midfielder has always been my best and most preferred position, and I rotate through a high half-forward role each quarter at Sturt which helps build my craft around goals. “I like to think I work hard to find the ball which is maybe why I get a few disposals but the next step for my game is being able to use it better and be more damaging.”

Having finished his schooling at Scotch in 2019, Powell began studying commerce at the University of Adelaide this year. 

“I’m finding university studies slightly more flexible and independent than Year 12, so I think this year especially I’ve found a better balance between my studies and football,” Powell told Draft Central. 

Powell has been a driving force behind the Double Blues’ successes to-date, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the on-baller, who was forced to battle through injury last season. 

“I had an issue with my hip last year which hindered my performance a little bit, but I had an operation on it in mid-October last year and it feels as good as new now,” he said.  “I was recovering from surgery throughout the Christmas period and the first two SA Academy Hub camps which was quite challenging. (But) I tried to stay involved and help the team off the field wherever I could and still learnt a lot from the coaches and the other elite players during this time which was very beneficial for me.” 

Powell’s surgery meant he had a disrupted start to preseason training, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, postponing the start of the SANFL season. 

“This allowed me to have a longer preseason from January to March and complete a bit of extra rehab to make sure my hip had great strength and was in prime condition,” he said. 

Powell described himself as “pretty easy going and relaxed” outside of football, but his performances on the field have been anything but.

“I think the key things for me have just been making sure I never miss any training sessions and when I’m training, to do it at full intensity so that I can keep improving,” he said. “Playing with a great team and coaching staff at Sturt has also allowed me to find a bit of form so I’m grateful for that.”

In Sturt’s recent Round 10 victory over West Adelaide, Powell ran amok, amassing a staggering 47 disposals, two goals and ten clearances in a performance which further ignited calls for a League debut. 

“I don’t like to look too far into the future, but I enjoy training with the seniors and hope to get an opportunity at some stage as I know it will help improve my footy, playing against bigger bodies,” Powell said.

The 180cm Powell identified his cleanness at ground level and quick handballing skills as some of the strengths of his game. 

“I’m not a super fast player, so being clean gives me a bit more time to make decisions and get the ball out to my teammates from stoppages,” he said. 

Despite living in South Australia, the teenager has supported the Gold Coast Suns since Gary Ablett signed with the Queensland cluband models his game around Brisbane ball-magnet Lachie Neale and Collingwood superstar Adam Treloar. 

“They use their hands around stoppages really well and I would like to implement a bit more run and carry as well as improving my ability to hit the scoreboard like these players do,” he said. 

Powell has worked hard on his tackling technique throughout the season, after recognising it as an area for improvement ahead of his top-aged season. 

“I also think if I were to increase my offball running and endurance it would make me a better player as a whole and help the team more,” he said.

The midfielder is one of the leading prospects in a talented South Australian crop set to lock-horns with Western Australia in the coming months. 

Riley Thilthorpe is a fantastic player and an especially good leader amongst the SA Hub group and Luke Edwards and Mani Liddy are challenging to match up against in-game and at training,” he said. “I’m quite close with Lewis Rayson (Glenelg), Henry Nelligan (Norwood) and the Sturt boys too,” Powell said. 

Although a date for the AFL Draft is yet to be announced, Powell insists he is taking things one game at a time and only worrying about what he can control.

“If we can hold on and make finals, obviously winning a premiership with my teammates at Under 18s level would be awesome,” Powell said. “I’ve had a couple chats with some (AFL) clubs but they’re mainly just trying to get to know me as a person, so it’s pretty relaxed.”

Having worked hard to overcome his injury concerns, the prolific ball-winner is now reaping the rewards of resilience and persistence. He was among those named to test in the AFL Draft Combine, which will be held on September 30 in South Australia.

>> Tom Powell Draft Watch

Picture: Mel Faull/SANFL

Resilient Anderson works her way to the top

RENOWNED for her ability to light up the footy field with her explosive speed and fancy footwork, West Australian product Nyra Anderson boasts an exceptional story of resilience and hard work hailing from a rural town and working her way up through the ranks to follow her love for football.

A very proud Indigenous woman, Anderson sees her football as an opportunity to encourage other young Aboriginal women in particular, to follow in her footsteps and not to be afraid, instead jump on each opportunity that comes their way.

“I grew up in probably a real low, disadvantaged community,” she said. “So, opportunities what I’m getting hopefully girls have the opportunity to do exactly what I’m doing. “I really try and get that out publicly, as much as I can.”

Anderson expressed her desire to use her platform as a footballer to be a face for the Indigenous community and create more pathways for girls to succeed.

“Just where the place I grew up was just girls didn’t really have a pathway was just mainly boys so now that we have a pathway, I want girls to take every opportunity,” she said. “Even if it is not football. “Even if it is just going to school, getting help through that or getting your L’s like getting a job or something like that. “Just girls take on every opportunity that they can, take the help, don’t be scared.”

Growing up in a rural town, Anderson did not have a lot of opportunities to ply her trade on the footy field, or if she did, she had to compete with the boys. But that did not stop the 18-year-old who first picked up the footy at a very young age as her family fostered her love for the game.

“It’s all I ever really wanted when I was a kid,” Anderson said. “My dad just gave me a footy and then started playing when I was little. “When I was about four or three, and then grew up. “Couldn’t really afford to play in any clubs, so I just played school footy with all the boys and then got to Year 7 and saved up and then I joined the state team and made the state team.”

Still at such a young age, Anderson has impressed across a wealth of different leagues highlighting just how damaging she can be on the footy field and her ability to not be overawed by the bigger bodies.

“In Year 8 or Year 9 I joined Swan Districts, so it was pretty good,” she said. “Then tried out for state when I was like 12 to 16 and then, I got train on when I was 13 and then the next years I just made it through all the way. “Pretty much just where I am now, playing League when I was 16. “And now, I’m 18.”

Swan Districts has played a significant role in Anderson’s football development with the youngster crediting their caring nature as a focal point throughout her time with the club.

“It’s been pretty good yeah I love how it’s so family orientated,” she said. “They’re a really down to earth club and understand any financial issues, family issues that we have so it’s pretty good.”

An incredibly talented young player, Anderson plied her trade at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships last year, donning the Western Australia guernsey to not only showcase her football smarts but so too leadership qualities despite only being 17.

“It was a really good experience for my leadership and to work on my game and then just try to get drafted really,” she said.

Not only did Anderson get the opportunity to play for Western Australia, but so too the chance to play in Queensland and most exciting of the lot, run out on Metricon Stadium, something her family touted as “inspirational”.

“It was good, it was a good experience because for kids like me, from a really like remote community it really was a really good experience to tell my family, to tell my friends. So, I loved that,” she said.

With speed to burn Anderson pegs fitness as an area she hopes to improve on before getting drafted while her strengths lie in her ability to read the play and contest in one on one situations given her ability to “put [her] head over the ball and get it out”.

“Really first just to make AFLW and then give back to my community as much as I can because they really need it,” Anderson said. “I’m pretty versatile wherever the coach puts me and now it’s just, I adjust to wherever I am and play to my ability really.”

Anderson has also spent time with Fremantle, training with the midfield group and honing in her craft alongside some notable names in the AFLW world, something she hopes might become a reality one day soon.

“It was a good experience like a taste of AFL was at my fingertips so I’m hoping for the best in the future,” she said.

With the AFL Women’s Draft around the corner, Anderson has proven she has the skillset to be a handy inclusion in any side.

Two from two – NT gun Brodie Lake helps Centrals break through

SIX rounds into the 2020 SANFL Under 18s season, Central Districts sat seventh at 1-5. To that point, the Bulldogs had only bettered winless cellar dweller West Adelaide in Round 2. Over the past fortnight, they’ve improved to 3-5 and remain just one game off the top four.

Across that very same two-week period, Northern Territory (NT) native Brodie Lake has settled into the side having moved south to pursue a greater wealth of opportunities in his top-age AFL draft year. It may be a coincidence that Centrals are two from two with Lake in the lineup, but it’s clear the Top End talent is making his mark.

Having arrived in South Australia on the first Monday of August, Lake was able to get straight into training and make his debut for the Bulldogs just five days later.

“This is my second week here. Our season is not on (back home) and NT Thunder got cancelled with the NAB League so I made the decision to come down, get my name out there and play some games,” Lake told Draft Central this week.

“I didn’t have to quarantine coming from Darwin but I had to get a test just to make sure. It was good to get straight into training and playing. I had training on Wednesday and Thursday, and then played on the weekend and got the win.”

Central Districts’ Brodie Lake celebrates a goal with teammates | Picture credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

The daunting factor of living away from home at just 18 years of age is somewhat aided by the fact he has experienced it all before. Lake lived with a host family in Western Australia while representing Peel Thunder during last year’s WAFL Colts competition, making eight appearances. While he has the distraction of football and is currently rooming with older brother, Keenan in South Australia, the youngster still leans on his prior travels to push through.

“(Moving to WA last year) definitely made it a lot easier, knowing I can live away from Mum and Dad… I’m living here with my brother so that’s good.

“For the first couple of months I don’t find it hard because I’m doing stuff and training, but towards the end when the season is about to finish I start missing home a little bit more.

“Mum, Dad and my brother are big helps. They just push me and encourage me to do stuff and they say ‘It’s up to you, it’s your dream, but we’ll help you and support you through it.'”

That dream of playing AFL football has been at the forefront of Lake’s mind since first representing the Thunder at Under 16s level in 2018. He did so once again in 2019, earning his side’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for his efforts across the three-game Division 2 carnival.

“I started getting serious about it at Under 16s, my first year (with NT). I was like ‘Yeah, this is something I want to do.’

“I enjoyed playing with the boys back home, getting into the state side with them and getting to know them a bit more. It was good, especially to get All Australian, I was pretty happy with that.”

Congratulations to Brodie Lake who topped off his family affair during the NAB AFL Under 16 Championships by being named…

Posted by AFL Northern Territory on Friday, July 12, 2019

 

Having grown up in the Darwin zone, Lake is tied to the Gold Coast SUNS, though opted to continue his southern venture rather than represent the Queensland-based program in the current Academy Series.

“I went down (to Queensland) and trained with them for two weeks in the off-season with Joel Jeffrey, Brandon Rusca, and Tyrell Lui. I enjoyed it, they’re a great bunch of boys.

“I haven’t heard much lately because of the virus obviously, but a couple of the boys are down there training with the academy now. I didn’t end up going because I talked to ‘Roey’ (NT Thunder Academy coach, Jason Roe) and Dad, we had a chat and they reckon it’s better for me to stay down here and get some game time.”

The medium-sized utility has had plenty of mentors to aid him as he traverses a path less travelled by, as well as teammates who have made each transition as smooth as possible. Lake played senior football alongside former AFL midfielders Ed and Michael Barlow at Southern Districts in the 2019/20 NTFL season, with senior coach Matt Cannard also playing a hand in his development as a midfielder.

Through the Palmerston Under 12s and the NT system, he played both with and against Jeffrey, and also got to know a bunch of other AFL draft hopefuls when selected in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase. One of them was current Centrals League gun Corey Durdin, while fellow Bulldogs Austin McDonald and Kobe Wilson have partnered him well through midfield at Under 18s level. Another Palmerston product, Jonty Patrick, who was set to join the Calder Cannons this season, has also made the trip down with him.

While there are a bunch of great minds and players alike to feed off, Lake also takes inspiration from GWS GIANTS midfielder Lachie Whitfield, who he models his game on. The similarities are there; the ability to accumulate on the spread, play on either side of midfield or off half-back, and run all day. Lake enjoys watching Whitfield so much, he even jumped ship from supporting Carlton to embrace the ‘Big Big Sound’ in Western Sydney.

As he blazes his own trail, the 18-year-old sees himself slotting in at half-back among an AFL side, with a good bunch of traits to help stamp his case as a genuine draft chance.

“(I’d fit in) at half-back I reckon… with my running off the backline, I use the ball well and read the play,” he said.

“I enjoy playing inside mid or outside, I love midfield.”

Of his strengths, Lake listed speed, agility, marking, and tackle pressure, while he is looking to improve on his timing and getting to as many contests as possible.

There have been many adjustments to be made too, from the cooler weather, to playing a different brand of football than he’s used to.

“It’s freezing. I just warm up in a jumper, and warm up extra obviously because my muscles are a bit colder… on-field here there’s more structure and (it’s played) in-close with bigger bodies. They move the ball faster too by hand and foot.”

As he further acclimatises across the second half of the SANFL season, Lake is looking to move up the grades and simply put his best foot forward in hopes of realising his ultimate dream. Should it fail to come to fruition in 2020, Lake says he is committed to putting in a full campaign down south next year in between duties with Southern Districts. With his current online Year 12 studies in tow, there is always a Plan B, too.

For now, it’s full steam ahead with exposure and time on the park paramount to his chances of reaching the elite level.

Lake sought to thank his parents, brother, Nan and Pop, aunties, uncles, and cousins, for all their support during his journey.

Caleb Poulter – The Eagle soaring into first round contention

CALEB POULTER is hard to miss on the footy field. He is the big-bodied midfielder rapidly climbing his way up draft boards on the back of six outstanding SANFL Under 18s outings for Woodville-West Torrens (WWT). While a flowing mullet and rudely bright boots already make him easily identifiable, Poulter’s presence at the contest, overhead marking, and graceful coverage of the ground ensure he is truly unmistakable.

After earning a State Under 16s berth and contributing to the Eagles’ SANFL Under 18s premiership in 2019, the Adrossan junior decided to make the big move over to Henley High School in 2020. It would allow him to bridge the two-hour gap to and from training, the opportunity to consistently play alongside the likes of Bailey Chamberlain, Taj Schofield and roommate Zac Phillips, while also gaining a top-notch Year 12 education to boot.

Fast-forward through an arduous preseason and great bouts of uncertainty, Poulter hit the ground running this year with form that made him impossible to ignore. His Round 1 performance of 34 disposals, seven marks, 10 tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s, and a goal put him on the map with a Torrens University Cup MVP nomination, but his performances since have propelled him into first round calculations. Averaging 24.5 disposals, 6.0 marks, 5.8 tackles, 3.0 clearances, 5.0 inside 50s, and over a goal per game, Poulter is one of the most dynamic and dominant midfielders at the level right now.

Such form has warranted heavy opposition attention, as well as contact with AFL recruiters. But the soaring Eagles prospect is simply looking to find consistency in his game and iron out his areas of improvement. With fellow 2019 premiership Lachlan Jones plying his trade at League level, a rise up the SANFL grades is also on the cards for Poulter in his top-age campaign.

We caught up with the talented 17-year-old during the week to chat all things footy. Below are quotes from the man himself regarding a range of topics; from his journey to this point, dealing with uncertainty, and just why he supports two AFL clubs.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

JUNIOR FOOTY:

“It’s always been footy for me ever since I was growing up. Through AusKick and the juniors I’ve always had a passion for footy, just the competitive side of it. It’s always been footy for me.

“(WWT) Eagles invited me to all their country programs, whether that was Under 14s or Under 15s. It started to become serious in my Under 16s year, obviously playing as a Metro and Country team combined. Then last year for the Under 18s as a bottom-ager, coming into this year as a top-ager, and hopefully playing some senior footy.”

LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

INITIAL FEELINGS:

“It was obviously a surreal feeling. Me and the other boys had trained our asses off since November just to be told we don’t know when footy’s coming back. So it was quite surreal but we used the lockdown period to work on all our improvement areas. For me, it was my contested side of things, so I used that time to get in the gym and get busy so when footy did come back, I’d be ready to go.”

KEEPING CONTACT:

“It’s been pretty quiet with all the (AFL Academy) hub stuff lately. But we always touch base, whether that’s through Zoom or through Tony Bamford just having one-on-one meetings… We just try to stay connected in any way possible just in case there is a national carnival coming up at the end of the year.

“Like I said, it’s sort of quietened down now, but I know when the hub was around we did a lot of wellbeing meetings or group tasks just to benefit the team and make closer friends. Just that bonding side of things was quite big.”

RETURNING TO PLAY:

“I definitely think it’s a huge benefit for us, for myself and the other SA boys that really want to fly up the draft ranks. For Vic Country and Vic Metro not to play, I think recruiters are focussing on WA and SA players more than what they have in previous years. So I’m definitely trying to use that as a opportunity to just perform well and see what happens come the end of the year.”

SEASON 2020

STEPPING UP:

“Obviously in the preseason I worked pretty hard, whether that was out with the Eagles seniors or in the (AFL Academy) hub. I just worked on all my improvement areas and got all of them right. Then I just took some form from the preseason games earlier this year and took it on to this season so it’s been good. Hopefully I can stay consistent.

“I sat down with the senior coaches and we thought I’d just find some form in my own age group before I have the opportunity to hopefully go up and play some two’s or one’s footy. I just want to stay consistent and keep playing my role for the 18s, then hopefully later on in the season I can crack the senior side.”

MOVING SCHOOLS, TO ADELAIDE:

“I’m in Year 12. I moved from the country down to (Adelaide) last year to go to Henley High. All the boys there have been welcoming and they’ve obviously got a great football program so it’s been good so far.

“It was pretty challenging. My old school in the country, I was there until Year 11 and obviously making the move to Adelaide to go to a big school like Henley was quite nerve wracking at first… school has a great bunch of lads and we’re all a tight knit group. The coach likes for us to be tight so it’s been great training with them.

“The team’s led by players like Taj Schofield and Bailey Chamberlain, they’re great footy players and have had a great year so far. They’ve been great leaders for the younger boys coming through.”

ATTRACTING INTEREST:

“I’ve had a few Zoom meetings with AFL recruiters, a fair few clubs lately have been Zooming me. They obviously just want to get to know you as a person I guess, and as a player. They’ve been great, they just tell us if we need to work on anything.”

“I think it was against North (Adelaide) that I got thrown down back because I was getting a fair bit of attention from certain players, so I thought to break the tag the coach would put me in the backline to find a bit of the footy… It’s pretty hard having to have all that attention on me, I’ve had it for the past few weeks ever since my Round 1 performance. I just try to think about the play I guess and play my style of footy and hopefully things will pay off and the ball will come my way.”

PREFERRED POSITION:

“I definitely feel like I can benefit most for the team playing inside mid, then resting forward. But I think a big thing for me is my versatility, coaches like to put me in the backline sometimes and I can even play a bit of outside mid as well. So it’s good to have that versatility but like I said, I like playing inside mid then resting up forward like I have been this year.”

STRENGTHS:

“I’d bring physicality and competitiveness (to an AFL club). I love the hard ball so I think they’re the main two things that I bring, and obviously I’m quite an outgoing type of person so I think my personality would suit well with any bunch of boys. That’s definitely the three things for me and just overall, I’m hard working and never give up. They’re definitely the traits I like to be known by the most.”

TEAMMATES (STATE, SCHOOL, AND SANFL):

“I know there’s a lot of leaders out there like Riley Thilthorpe, playing League out at Westies this year. He’s someone who uses his experience in the hub from previous years to help out the younger boys and just get around them. So he was obviously a leader for us, and then you’ve got people like Luke Edwards and Kaine Baldwin, they were also great leaders. They definitely helped over preseason and in the hubs, it was good.

“(Lachie Jones) has been really good. He had a solid preseason with the senior boys and is fortunate enough to be playing one’s at the moment. He’s having a great year so hopefully he can stay consistent. He’s tied to Port so hopefully they can pick him up later on this year.”

BACK-TO-BACK?:

“I’m extremely excited, i just want to stay consistent and find the footy and obviously just benefit for my team and hopefully we can get a few wins on the board, crack finals and see what happens at the end of the year… going into preseason back-to-back premierships for myself and a few of the other boys was in sight. So hopefully we can work well as a team, all play out roles and see what happens.”

CALEB POULTER, THE PERSON

FAVOURITE AFL TEAM:

“I go for Geelong and Brisbane… My family always grew up going for Geelong so I went to Geelong, then when Brisbane drafted Cam Rayner and some others a few years back I sort of liked the way they play and they have a few young blokes who’re playing a good brand of footy lately.”

“I’m happy to go anywhere. All 18 clubs have a great culture and whatnot. I don’t really care where I end up, as long as I can get on an AFL list. I don’t really have any preferences, just anywhere really.”

ASPIRATIONS:

“Obviously I want to achieve good grades to get a high ATAR. If footy doesn’t work out or just as a plan B, going to uni to do something like human movement or physiotherapy definitely catches my eye.”

“On the field I just want to stay consistent and play a good style of footy and hopefully get drafted at the end of the season. Off the field it’s just to stay on top of my grades, to use my time management to get on top of my school, and then go to training and train hard. They’re the main things for me.”

MENTORS:

“My dad’s been a big support for me. He obviously played a fair bit of footy growing up and was pretty good so he gives me a lot of constructive feedback whenever I need it. And coaches like my 18s Eagles coach and the hub coaches have also been great mentors for my progression over the years as well. That’s definitely got me to where I am today, so I can’t thank them enough.”

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT
>> AFL Draft Watch: Caleb Poulter
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> 2020 SA Under 18s Squad Prediction