Tag: nab league fitness testing day by rookie me

Q&A: Jye Lockett (GWV Rebels/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jye Lockett at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

It would only seem fitting that the nephew of Tony Lockett would ply his trade as a budding centre half-forward, and furthermore make the move down to Ballarat as he looks pursue footballing and schooling opportunities. The Queenslander is also part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and represented Queensland at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, booting multiple goals in two of the three games.



MA: Jye, how’s the day been so far?

JL: “It’s been good to see all the other teams here. Everyone goes out there and competes hard and I guess it gives a good indication of your athletic ability.”


Which of the tests are you excelling in or looking to improve on at the moment?

“I didn’t do too bad at the agility (test) but I’d probably like to work on my 20-metre sprint.”


How has the transition been coming from Queensland?

“It was good, I moved down just before last year and was in the Under 16s Rebels program. I moved into the 18s this year and it’s going really well.”


You enjoyed a pretty successful Under 16 carnival as well playing forward alongside Noah McFadyen, how was that?

“Yes, I love playing with ‘Nug’. He’s a great bloke and I think we work really well together, so that 16s Queensland side was real fun.”


Will you continue to represent Queensland and the Allies or transition to Vic Country?

“The plan was this year to play with the Queensland Futures 17s and go through the Allies program in my 18th year, but I’m not too sure about that just yet. I’m focused on this year.”


And you’ve come down for school as well?

“Yes, I got a scholarship at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat and have done Year 11 and 12 there.”


Who are some of the boys from there and the Rebels you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch – a few of the Academy boys. It’ll be good to play alongside them and learn off all their different skills.”


In terms of position, are you looking to move further afield in future?

“Yes. Centre half-forward is obviously the main position but anywhere from half-forward or deep forward, even pushing up the ground into the midfield or up on the wing is probably the next goal.”


Do you have any other goals for the year?

“Obviously if I can play really well in those Queensland Under 17 games then get into the Under 18 Academy and Allies (squad) and set myself up really well.”

Q&A: Joshua Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Calder Cannons’ Joshua Eyre at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The raw 197cm prospect featured up either end and even on a wing for Calder throughout eight NAB League outings in 2019, but is looking to cement his spot across centre half-forward this season having impressed with his leap and clean hands. Eyre is also part of the Essendon Next Generation Academy (NGA) alongside his younger brother, with both players looking to have a consistent, injury-free run in 2020. The 17-year-old would have been ready to go come Round 1 or 2, but will now have to wait for his chance to impress.



MA: How’s the day been so far?

JE: “It’s been unreal, loving it. “I haven’t really done it before so it’s a good experience.”

Being part of the Essendon NGA with Cody Brand, what’s that been like?

“Yeah, good. “I’ve only had the one session there so far but I’ve been loving it. Very lucky.”

And being around the Vic Metro Hub, how’s that aiding your development?

“It’ll be really good. “Hopefully I’m lucky enough to get a game but yeah, it’s good.”

Juggling a few teams this year, who are you looking forward to playing alongside?

“I’m looking forward to Calder, just playing alongside Jackson Cardillo and Cody Brand. “We should have a good year, we’re looking good.”

You’ve played a little bit of everywhere, are you looking to nail down a particular position?

“I’m hoping to play centre half-forward this year. “I feel like that suits me well but I’m open to play anywhere, whether I go back or maybe even a wing.”

What are some of the things you’re looking to work on this season?

“Probably just making sure I stay involved in the game, just to make sure my work rate’s up and just getting a lot of the footy.”

Have you set up a few goals for the year?

“I want to obviously play the Metro games and be lucky enough to get drafted at the end of the year. “But I just want to put together a good season.”

Your brother’s part of the Essendon NGA as well, are you passing on a few tips?

“He’s probably a bit better than I was when I was that age but he’s going through the same injuries that I had through that period which is a but unlucky, but at least it means he’s going to grow which is good for him. He’s going well.”

Have you managed a good bill of health now heading into Round 1?

“Hopefully. I’ve just come off a hamstring – the bone on my hamstring has flared up a bit. “But I’m working back into that so hopefully in Round 1 or 2 I should be back.”

Q&A: Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Eastern Ranges’ Joshua Clarke at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The speedy half-back flanker already boasts an impressive NAB League resume having featured across 18 games in Eastern’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, and is one of five Ranges currently attached to the Vic Metro Academy Hub. Clarke’s speed and line-breaking ability going forward helped him stand out as a bottom-ager, while his penetrating left boot became an asset throughout 2019. Looking to continue a similar role in 2020, the 181cm prospect would have been raring to go come Round 1 despite a pre-season groin niggle.


MA: Josh, you’re sitting out the testing today – what’ve you picked up?

JC: “I’ve got a little bit of a sore groin, it’s not 100% at the moment so I thought I’d just take a rest out.”

Are you going to be ready for Round 1?

“Yeah I’ll be ready for Round 1, definitely.”

What about the rest of the preseason to date, have you had a solid one?

“I’ve had a fairly solid preseason. “Probably been out for maybe two or three weeks but the boys are going along really well and we get along as a great bunch.”

Playing off half-back in a really good team last year, how’d you rate your bottom-age season?

“I was pretty happy to even just play one game as a bottom-ager but was lucky enough to play the whole year so I was very happy with my performance as a bottom-ager. But I’ve just got to step up this year and be a leader.”

What’s it like for the team having the grand final experience from last year, will it put you in good stead?

“Obviously last year we didn’t have any drafted which showed that we are a team and it’s the same this year. “I think we’ve got the same character, the same mottos we go by so again, I think that us as a team will do pretty well this year.”

Are you looking to move up the ground a little bit, or will you lock down that half-back role again?

“I don’t really mind. “I’d love to have a half-back role, I feel like I can play my best footy there. “On a wing is another place I’m pretty good at so yeah, I like to move forward and kick goals.”

Being around the traps at the Vic Metro Hub, how’s that been for your development?

“It’s been a lot of help, surrounded by players that are better than me and a lot of good leaders and people setting the standard. It’s been really good to learn off them.”

Who are some of the players you’re looking forward to playing alongside this year for Metro?

Eddie Ford, a pretty exciting character. “And definitely Bailey Laurie, he’s a very quick sort of player that I want to (emulate).”

In terms of your game on-field, what are some of the things you’re looking to iron out heading into your top-age year?

“Obviously playing half-back, to nail being a defensive player because that’s my role at the start of the day. “So becoming tighter on my defending, more aware but when I can impact and run off, that’s when I’ll do that.”

Are there any landmarks that you’re looking to hit or goals you’re setting at the moment?

“For me it’s just to set the standard at Eastern. “There’s a lot of boys there that haven’t had the experience, were lucky enough to play last year or been through the system. “So to sort of guide them through that, and we have a great captain in Connor Downie to put us under the wing – he’s very good.”

AFL Draft Watch: Jackson Cardillo (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

IN a build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central will take a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under-17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Our first AFL Draft watch focuses on Calder Cannons’ Jackson Cardillo who lit up the track at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day, recording the best 20m sprint at the event clocking up a sizzling 2.88 seconds. While it was clear from watching the speedster burst out of the stoppages in his bottom-age year, Cardillo put that on-field ability on display at Maribyrnong College in March, where he was also above average in the vertical jump, running vertical jump and agility test. While his endurance is an area he could improve, his agility (8.15 seconds) and running vertical jump (82cm) were particularly impressive.


Speed: Elite (#1)
Vertical Jump: Above Average (#29)
Running Vertical Jump: Above Average (#38)
Agility: Above Average (#39)

Jackson Cardillo said on how he felt he fared:

“Not too bad, I pride myself on my sprinting so that’s the one I target, I think I did alright. “The rest of them, I think i did alright (too).”

Talent Manager Tom Lonergan said in the preseason:

“Cardillo obviously can play forward and midfield, so we’d like to think all those guys (Vic Metro hub members) can play in multiple positions.”


Jackson Cardillo

Height: 185.5cm
Weight: 77.5kg
Position: Inside Midfielder/Forward

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 18 games | 13.2 disposals (54 per cent contested) | 2.1 marks | 2.6 clearances | 3.8 tackles | 2.6 inside 50s | 11 goals

Strengths: Explosive speed, kick penetration, stoppage presence
Improvements: Disposal consistency


Wildcard Round vs. Tasmania Devils

By: Taylah Melki

Worked hard across the ground to provide an option and use his assets to his advantage. Cardillo showed good pace out of the middle to run through corridor and spear the ball forward. Displayed good tackling pressure to win a holding the ball call and ran hard throughout the match. He used his quick hands to keep the ball moving and stepped up in the last term winning his fair share of the ball.

Round 17 vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Michael Alvaro

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

Under 17 Futures Game vs. Queensland

By: Michael Alvaro

Having shown his aggression and ball winning ability on the inside in his NAB League outings, Cardillo spent most of his time on the wing and at half forward in this game. His forward running proved effective, hitting up Reef McInnes inside 50 in the first term and moving up towards attacking 50 with intent. After lacking oomph on a snap attempt in the second term, Cardillo made amends with a nice set shot finish after the half time siren for his only goal of the game. He would go on to miss another chance on the run when he had a touch more time to find the intended target, and attended the centre bounces late on.

Round 15 vs. GWV Rebels

By: Michael Alvaro

He might only be a bottom-ager, but Cardillo keeps on providing good grunt in the engine room, battling hard to break tackles and applying his own with force throughout the day. He was a little down on some of his recent numbers but still popped up with a few nice touches around the ground – marking strongly on forward wing in the fourth quarter and later faking a set shot to find Sam Ramsay a little further inside attacking 50.

Round 14 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Michael Alvaro

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks. His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on. Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and willingness to break tackles.

Q&A: Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Oakleigh Chargers’ Finlay Macrae at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jackson, Finlay has paved an equally-impressive junior path of his own thus far having featured in last year’s Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. While he may not have gotten on the park for the Big V’s Under 18 outfit, Macrae impressed across his seven outings at NAB League level for Oakleigh, including an influential finals campaign after school football commitments saw him represent Xavier College.

Having been utilised across half-forward given the strength of Oakleigh’s midfield in 2019, the 184cm Charger is keen to build his midfield minutes this season and has all the poise, smarts, and class to do so. A capable user of the ball, Macrae showcased as much in last year’s Under-17 All Stars fixture on AFL Grand Final Day, while gaining more tricks of the trade in a week-long pre-season stint at the Bulldogs. With notable experience under his belt and some outstanding talent surrounding him, Macrae looks primed for a big year – however it may pan out.


MA: How’s the testing been so far?

FM: “It’s been pretty good. Started off with the agility and the vertical and all that, got the yo-yo to go.”

Were you able to showcase some of your best traits in those or is the yo-yo the one you’re after?

“Yeah I’m probably more of an endurance player, so hopefully the yo-yo I can go alright in.”

You stood out in a pretty stacked Oakleigh side last year, how’s that helped you set up for your top-age season?

“Learning a lot from Rowelly (Matt Rowell) and Ando (Noah Anderson) is big. “Especially not playing mid last year but hoping to get a bit more mid time this year. “Taking little things away from them, training habits and things like that has been really good. A great experience.”

You’re in a rare position in that you’re not only learning off guys like Rowell and Anderson first-hand, but you’ve also got a brother (Jackson) in the AFL system. How’s that been for your development?

“Yeah it’s been pretty good. I suppose spending the week in December (at the Western Bulldogs) was also really cool. “Joining in with some of their midfield craft sessions, that was really good and a great experience as well.”

Did you beat out your brother at a few of the stoppages?

“Nah I didn’t play on him unfortunately. “But yeah, it was a good week.”

Obviously that goes with being in the Vic Metro Hub as well, who are some of the guys that you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“For Metro I suppose a couple of blokes that played last year. Nik Cox, Will Phillips, and Connor Downie – those sort of blokes, they’ve been really good. “And then Sam Tucker, a good mate of mine, he’ll also be in there which I’m excited about.”

And you’re at Xavier College… who’re some of the guys that you’re looking forward to playing alongside there?

Josh Sinn, a bottom-ager this year and Dante Visentini – they’re also good. And Will Hart, he’s another one. “So a pretty good team this year hopefully.”

Are you really set on locking down that midfield role and being a leader through the engine room?

“Yeah it’d be a good experience. “I suppose (it was) a pretty stacked team last year and I didn’t quite get an opportunity but playing forward was really good for me, I enjoyed it and this year it’d be nice to play a little bit of mid.”

Are there any other goals personally that you’re looking to tick off?

“Yeah I suppose making the Vic Metro team and the Australian team are probably the two standouts… I’m really pushing forward toward them and trying to get in.”

Wareham enjoying the moment as he eyes second chance

AFTER injury curtailed his year, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Isaac Wareham is hoping to make the most of a second chance after being picked as one of the overagers in the Rebels’ squad. There is still much unknown about the season or drafts, but Wareham is just taking each moment as it comes.

Born on Christmas Eve, had Wareham been born a week later, he would have had his top-age year in 2020. Nonetheless, the talented midfielder was top-age last year, and copped an injury at the worst possible time later in the season after a promising first half of the season and representing Vic Country at the AFL Under 18 Championships. Speaking to Draft Central at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, Wareham said he was looking forward to having a full season after overcoming injury in his top-age year.

I’ve been with the Geelong VFL at the moment as an overager and they’ve done heaps for me, which has kind of helped me out me through the offseason and hopefully that can get me playing some good footy this year,” he said.

The decision to come back as a 19-year-old talent – even though if Wareham was to be drafted at the end of the year he would still be 18 on draft day – comes down to the individual, his club and interest from AFL recruiters. With an invitation to the State Draft Combine last year, Wareham had his suitors and GWV Rebels Talent Manager Phil Partington believes if it had not been for injury, the slick midfielder would be on an AFL list now.

“Isaac, unfortunately we probably wouldn’t be talking about him now if he played the last six games of the year without injury, he missed the last half of the year after the national championships,” Partington said. “He’s born on 24/12 so he’s a very young boy still and only a week from being a NAB League player officially as an 18-year-old this year.”

It was Partington’s support that helped Wareham make the decision to return to the Ballarat-based club for another year, while being listed on Geelong’s VFL list.

I think any chance you get at playing high level footy like NAB League, you’re going to take it,” Wareham said. “Parto’s (Partington) been rooting for me for the whole time. “He urged me to go for the 19-year-old (year) and I got it and yeah like I said before, Geelong have been really good with it and have allowed me to do both which is good.”

Growing up in the talent fertile region of the Hampden League playing for Terang Mortlake, Wareham said the style of play might have changed going through the elite pathway, but the simple messages from coaches was the same.

Yeah obviously it’s a little bit different to other areas,” he said. “It’s more country footy so it’s maybe takes a little to get used to this high skill, NAB League. “But I think coaches growing up always gave us the same tips and same pointers that the coaches nowadays are so I think they do really well.”

Not everyone gets a chance at pulling on the ‘Big V’, but that is exactly what Wareham did last season, and the lightly built midfielder said it was enjoyable throughout and despite the end result, was something he would never forget.

I think that was one of the funnest times of football I’ve had,” Wareham said. “I think the team atmosphere we had and the culture we built was pretty special. “It was just so fun to play in. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but everyone tried really hard and that’s what we wanted.”

One piece of play that would become synonymous with Hayden Young in the lead-up to the AFL Draft was a remarkable 50-metre plus kick to hit a target running in space on a 45 degree angle – but Young spotted that player. The player was Wareham who admitted some of the Vic Country kids reminded him of featuring on that highlight reel moment by being the recipient.

I think I’ve been doing that my whole career, but it’s just like Hayden’s one of those blokes who can pull it off pretty easily so yeah I’m just grateful to play among those people like Caleb Serong, Hayden Young who are just so elite.”

Wareham rates his strengths as his running ability to break the lines and use the ball well by hand or foot. Despite being a slick user of the ball, the midfielder said he has improved that aspect of his game even further over the preseason. It was one of a number of areas Wareham has improved since last season and will look to continue to improve throughout 2020.

I think I’ve improved my kicking over the preseason and hopefully I can showcase that in a game,” Wareham said. “Coming in as a skinny 70kg kid, just trying to build my strength up and a bit of weight around the hips. “Trying to get more of that contested ball.

While the COVID-19 global pandemic has rocked the sporting world, as soon as Wareham and his teammates can get back on the field, you can be sure he will just take the moment for what it is and enjoy it.

I think it’s just really enjoying my footy,” he said. “I probably got in a mood towards the start of last year when I got a few injuries where I wasn’t enjoying it as much but coming in as a 19-year-old I really enjoy it a lot more. “I’m just a bit more relaxed and just enjoying the experience.”

Q&A: Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a few weeks earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Eastern Ranges’ Connor Downie at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

MA: How’s the preseason testing day been for you?

CD: “Yeah it’s alright, it’s been good seeing the other boys from the other regions.”

You must have a bit of that being involved with the Vic Metro hub. How’s that been for your development?

“Yeah it’s really good. “I met a few new boys that I wouldn’t really have met if it wasn’t for that, so I’m really grateful for that experience.”

Which boys are you looking forward to playing alongside you’ve met in the hub?

“Definitely Josh Clarke is one of my good mates at Eastern so keen to play with him. Same with Tyler Sonsie and all those boys.”

You’re a part of Hawthorn NGA as well, how’s that been for you?

“It’s been really good. Nathan Foley who’s is a really good mentor for me down there. “He’s helped me out with a lot of tips about my game and goes through vision with me and stuff, so he’s been really good to me.”

It was a good results-based season for Eastern last year, how’s it been being able to crack that team and being a part of it? Do you feel more of a leader this year?

“Yeah definitely. “Last year I had a really good group of top agers to guide me through the year and help me get experience and this year I can take what I learnt from them. “From the leaders last year like ‘Rossy’ (James Ross) and stuff, to hopefully be a good leader this year for the boys.”

Do you have any goals this year?

“Obviously I want to hopefully help the boys get to the finals and hopefully win the grand final for Eastern. “But I want to have a good impact in Metro carnival and AFL Academy and hopefully the Draft Combine later in the year.”

Thankful Hollands sees positivity in knee injury

POTENTIAL top pick, Elijah Hollands has no intention of focusing on the negatives of his lengthy stint on the sidelines. The Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country star unfortunately suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in his knee at training prior to his first practice match of the year, which ruled him out for the entire 2020 season.

Having achieved the rare feat of playing every game for Vic Country as a bottom-ager, Hollands was regarded as a top five pick, and potential number one selection with his size, high-flying ability and class among his key standout attributes. Speaking to the 188cm forward/midfielder at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, Hollands said he was optimistic about the road to recovery after a successful surgery just two days prior to the testing.

“It’s (the recovery) going really well,” he said. “I had the operation on Thursday, went into Epworth and got it done by Tim Whitehead and came out with no issues. “The surgery went really well, I was looked after really well by everyone there. “The long road starts now but I’ll be back, it’s just one of those things unfortunately with footy.”

He said prior to the knee injury, it had been a good pre-season and he was looking forward to attacking the matchplay. Though he will now not get a chance to run out in a competitive match, Hollands has remained positive that he can benefit from missing out.

“I was feeling pretty fit and strong,” Hollands said. “I had a pretty good pre-season with the Vic Country boys and the Bushies boys. “I was really looking forward to getting into things. “I was four days away from my first practice match, but I’ll be okay. “I’ll get the chance to come back even fitter and stronger now, so I look forward to that.”

His preseason also included having a run around with the reigning premiers, Richmond at training as part of the Vic Country Hub program. Joined by Murray teammate Zavier Maher, Hollands said it was an “awesome” experience and they felt like part of the team immediately.

“Zav Maher and I went down to Richmond in the first week of December,” he said. “The Richmond guys were sensational in the way they went about it, and included us straight away from the first session we were in so they were pretty awesome.”

It was somewhat fitting that Hollands landed at the Tigers, the club where his father, Ben played eight games in 1999. While it might have been a brief AFL stint, Hollands played more than 100 games at West Adelaide after spending time on Port Adelaide’s rookie list, and has the experience of being in an elite system – something he passed on to his son.

“It was funny (being chosen to train with Richmond),” Hollands said. “He played his only senior games at Richmond as well. “A few boys still remembered him, who have obviously been working there for a long time. “But he’s been great, he’s been really awesome with me as well. “Especially now with me, it proves his point that things change really quickly, so he was probably on the bad end of the business of the AFL, getting delisted a few times. “But he’s been really big on making sure that I enjoy the moments that I’m playing footy and I realise that slowly now.”

While many prospects fret when facing a long time out of the game in their top-age year, Hollands has been relieved that he has some runs on the board after a strong bottom-age season last year. It included representing Vic Country where he played all four games, recording 13.5 disposals, 2.3 marks, 5.5 tackles and 5.3 inside 50s. He continued that form with the Bushrangers, albeit for four games while juggling his school commitments, averaging 17.0 disposals, 5.5 marks, 3.8 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s and a goal a game.

“I was pretty happy with my season last year,” Hollands said. “I thought I started the NAB League season pretty well, mostly playing as a higher forward then. I was really happy with the opportunity in the Vic Country side and that was an awesome experience. “It’s like a family, I guess that’s what we’re known for and that’s what we try to be. “We’re like a family when we do all our Vic Country stuff whether it’s the hub or even during the national championships. I actually rang ‘Browny’ (Leigh Brown, Vic Country coach) the day I did my ACL just to thank him for picking me otherwise I might not have been maybe in this position now, so I was really thankful for the opportunity to play and be a part of that. “We had a pretty successful carnival as well.”

Hollands described the feeling of running out on AFL Grand Final Day as in the Under 17 Futures All Star game as “awesome” and “special”, something that he is unlikely to forget anytime soon.

“That was probably my highlight of the year, getting to run out on Grand Final Day, with some of the best boys my age as well that was awesome,” Hollands said. “To be able to hang around and watch the game afterwards that was pretty special.”

Hollands has made plenty of friends over the journey and got to know some of the best up-and-coming talents across the Vic Country and Murray Bushrangers programs. When asked about who he was looking forward to watch this year, Hollands pointed to an unlucky Country teammate, and a fellow hub member from Murray as ones to keep an eye on in 2020.

“It will be good to watch Tanner (Bruhn, Geelong Falcons) get back into things, he was sitting out most of the year last year,” he said. “I’m really keen for him to hopefully get a clean run of health. “He’s obviously got an immense amount of talent and it will be good to watch him go about things. “Another Bushies boy, Zav Maher he’s had his first full preseason, he just got that under his belt. “He’ll come out a lot fitter and a lot stronger this year. He’ll run the Murray midfield this year and do well.”

Being out for the year means the talented mid/forward will not be able to achieve his goals of becoming a more permanent midfielder and improving his strengths in there. But he already has an eye on the future and getting right for the 2020 off-season where it is expected he will be running around in different colours.

“That was probably the first goal on my list (to go into the midfield),” Hollands said. “I was sort of in that transition period last year moving into the midfield, I was hoping to boast a few more midfield minutes this year. “So that will be something I will try and work towards when I start my next pre-season and hopefully I’ll be able to achieve that.”