Big shift see Saints rookie spread his wings
It’s the highlights reel that should have St Kilda fans drooling.
The Saints have been crying out for a speedy midfielder with brilliant foot skills and Doulton Langlands might be the man for the job.
Picked up with the eighth selection in last Monday’s rookie draft, the 187cm wingman is thrilling. Don’t be surprised to see Langlands burn off an opponent and take a few bounces.
The former Murray Bushranger runs 20m in under 2.9 seconds – that’s blisteringly fast – and while he is a right-footer, it’s hard to tell, such is his proficiency on his left.
A brilliant goal he nailed against the Geelong Falcons in August is a prime example. Langlands won the contest, spun around an opponent, stepped around another and booted it on his left from 40m.
That ability to steady himself while running full tilt was developed in the last 12 months.
“He’s very considered and very balanced at speed. That’s a fairly unique skill,” Bushrangers regional manager Mick Wilson told AFL.com.au.
There are areas to work on, obviously. Players slip through to the rookie draft for a reason. Consistency is an issue and he also needs to build his tank, but his impressive work ethic should see that improve once he is in the system.
Several clubs were interested in Langlands. The youngest of four children originally could have been recruited by Greater Western Sydney at a discount, since he spent time in its academy, but Albury was taken out of the Giants’ priority recruiting zone earlier this year.
Langlands is quiet and reserved, but he was in the Bushrangers’ leadership group because of how respected he is.
He earned that stature through acts such as when a young player from Cairns came down to the club in July.
It was an uncomfortable environment for the youngster, barely knowing anyone and moving to chilly Wangaratta in the depths of winter, far different from his usual surrounds of tropical north Queensland.
“Without anyone asking or expecting Doulton to introduce himself, I noticed Doulton was drawn to him immediately and was asking about him, trying to make him as comfortable as possible. Asking about his family and his friends and what he did in Cairns,” Wilson said.
“(Langlands) was standing at the back of the group and he was helping with names.
“He did this all off his own back, without trying to bring attention to himself. He just has those leadership qualities and is just a good kid.”
Langlands didn’t miss a session while at the Bushrangers, even if sick or injured, and his diet was excellent, to the point that he helped his peers improve their eating habits.
While he has spent a lot of time across half-back, the Xavier High School Albury graduate shifted to the wing for the last five weeks of the season and hit his best form, playing with more flair as his confidence grew.
Langlands’ long kicking came to the fore and he was in a better position to roost goals, booting four in the last three weeks of the TAC Cup season.
Coming to the club with good mate and former North Albury teammate Ben Paton, who was selected at No.46 in the NAB AFL Draft, will help both as they make the move to the elite level together.
One thing is for sure – Langlands’ effort won’t be called into question.
“He won’t leave any stone unturned,” Wilson said.