Connor Byrne earns NEAFL Rising Star nomination

Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Media

Wagga boy Connor Byrne was rewarded with the Round 12 NEAFL Rising Star nomination after last week’s game against Canberra Demons finishing the game with 22 disposals.

The Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition. Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 seniors games (excluding games as AFL top-up players) at the start of the 2016 season.

The Giants Academy member made his NEAFL debut for the Giants last year, at just 17. Byrne was pleased to hear that his third game for the Giants would be in his home town “I haven’t played many games at home this year, so it was good to get back to play on ‘Robbo’ and have a couple of family members in the crowd.”

Byrne has returned back home to Wagga, after a year at boarding school in Ballarat, where he played 17 games for the Rebels in the TAC Cup. He has also represented the NSW/ACT Rams at the National U18 Div 2 Championships earlier this year. Byrne unfortunately missed out on the Allies Squad, but he believes it has motivated him to go the extra mile “It was a short term goal to make the Allies. Obviously I was very disappointed, but you’ve got to adjust and focus on the back end of the year and having a good last few months in the NEAFL and give myself the best chance for the future.”

“Some people can fade away but I feel it gives me that motivation to keep going and prove them wrong.”

A super fit and clever midfielder, Byrne played majority of last season as a small defender for the Rebels, but is most suited as an contested midfielder, with the added bonus of switching to a wing or half forward position at NEAFL level.

“All the Giants boys are pretty good at making you feel comfortable. But you do have to pinch yourself a couple of times, especially on the weekend with quality players like Rhys Palmer and those players. it’s a pretty good experience to play with those boys.”

Giants Academy manager, Jason Saddington commends Bryne on his hard work and dedication to the game “He is just one of those really good on-ball players, who is strong in the clearances but works hard to get some outside ball aswell. It’s good he is able to show some versatility.”

“He will play a lot of NEAFL football from here on in. He is a player we still look at as a potential draftee at the end of this year, even though he didn’t make the Allies squad. The NEAFL provides that pathway for him now to push ahead towards the draft. It’s fantastic he still gets that opportunity to play a high level of football.” Saddington said. 

Bryne’s ultimate goal is the elite AFL level “The AFL is the dream. I love the game, I love everything involved with it, and it would be massive to achieve it.”