Vic boys dominate draft
Victorians dominated the NAB AFL Draft with 39 of the total 75 player’s drafted coming through the TAC Cup system, highlighting once again the effectiveness of the Victorian development system, Joe Barresi reports.
Victoria's sweep included seven TAC Cup players selected in the first round of the draft, including key forward Jack Watts who was selected by the Melbourne Football Club with the prized first selection of the draft.
The Sandringham Dragons had six players drafted from the club, including first round selections Jack Watts, Tyrone Vickery, Tom Lynch and Mitchell Brown.
This year’s draft saw AFL clubs draft local talent with nine of the first 11 players drafted remaining in their home state. But 41 players will be packing their bags and heading interstate to start their AFL careers.
Essendon went one step further by drafting three Northern Knights players with their first three picks with Michael Hurley, David Zaharakis and Michael Still all heading to Windy Hill.
Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro was extremely pleased with the clubs picks, revealing that Hurley at pick five was seen as the perfect fit for the Bombers.
“We’re absolutely delighted (to draft Hurley), he’s a quality young player who is All-Australian two years in a row and AIS before that and he just fit’s our needs beautifully,” Dodoro said.
“We felt he was the best pick available and the best pick for us so it worked out pretty well for the club.
"We see him as a player who can play both ends so we’re really happy that we were able to secure him.”
As expected the boys were delighted to be drafted, let alone together to a local big name club. Hurley and Zaharakis were present at the draft and there was simply no wiping the smile off both of their faces.
“We’ve been at the Knights from Under-15’s, so four years together. Myself and Stilly played together at Eltham since Under-10’s, so the transition (to AFL) should be a little easier," Zaharakis said.
A Bombers fan all his life, Zaharakis endured a long wait to get drafted, having been overlooked in last year’s draft as a bottom aged player.
Despite the testing pre-season that is now awaiting him, Zaharakis added that he couldn’t wait to get down to training and prove his worth.
“I’ve been sitting at home for the last three weeks, basically just waiting to get into it so I can’t wait to get going," Zaharakis said.
Hurley was just as enthusiastic and when the key defender was asked which player he was most looking forward to training with and learning from, he responded, “definitely Dustin Fletcher down back” - a great response seeing as Fletcher is the player that Hurley will most likely be replacing in the years to come.
Perhaps the proudest youngster on draft day was exciting key forward prospect Jack Watts who was snapped up by Melbourne with the first pick in the draft. As expected, he was delighted to be drafted by Melbourne as it allows the bottom aged youngster to remain in Victoria and finish his schooling next year at Brighton Grammar.
“It’s a great feeling (being drafted). Melbourne footy club…no better place to be I don’t think, so I’m really happy with that," Watts said.
"It’s great to be staying in Melbourne and finishing my schooling. Brighton Grammar have been great over the years, giving me heaps of support over the years with my sporting endeavours so I’m really keen on finishing year 12 and doing well.
“School footy…it’s been an amazing few year’s playing school footy and I absolutely love it and Bill Jackson who has been the coach down there has just been an inspiration for me over the year’s but I’m not too sure if I’ll be playing any next year.”
When asked when training starts with the club, Watts smiled and said, “Well I think it should start on Monday but I’m at school, I’ve got school for the next week and a half so I’m not too sure what’s happening.”
Another player delighted with the draft outcome was ruckman/key forward Tyrone Vickery who will be heading to Richmond, where his father just happens to be the boxing and weights coach.
“I’m obviously really happy to be staying in Melbourne, well firstly to actually get drafted, and secondly to be staying in Melbourne and at a club I’ve been around and supported for a long time," Vickery said.
"I’ve been in there a fair few times so it’s a familiar environment so it’s pretty good.”
In regards to the step up from the TAC Cup, Vickery was looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“I know it’s a massive step up and there are a lot of expectations but I’m really looking forward to training full time and being a professional footballer," he said.