Mid-season draft: Hardie’s work pays off

Photo: Ron Arel/The Daily Advertiser


Mitchell Hardie became the fifth Leeton Whitton Crow in the past 12 years to be drafted last night, following his selection to the Geelong Cats in the 2023 AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.

Hardie, 25, was taken at pick six by the Cats who spotted his talents over the past two seasons at Woodville West-Torrens Eagles in the SANFL.

This year, the midfielder has averaged 25.7 touches and a goal a game, as well as being selected to represent the SANFL in its clash against the WAFL. He will add clean hands and great goal sense to the reigning premiers’ midfield.

Will Hardie be the proverbial Berocca that gets the Cats through their premiership hangover?


2012: Hardie (right) in his NSW Combined Catholic Colleges team kit alongside St Francis Leeton schoolmates and current AFL players Jacob Hopper (middle) and Matt Flynn (left). Yes, of course this team won the state champs.


What Hardie’s coach said

Hardie’s secondary school teacher and footy coach at St Francis De Sales Leeton, Travis Doyle, said of his former student:

“Mitchell Hardie is a player known for his exceptional goal-scoring skills. His ability to kick goals from outside 50 showcases his impressive kicking power and accuracy. His proficiency in executing snaps from the pockets demonstrates a high level of skill and finesse in his kicking technique.

“His capacity to contribute crucial points from challenging positions on the field adds an element of unpredictability and scoring potential to his team’s offence. With his long-range and difficult shot capabilities, he can change the momentum of a game and provide a significant scoring threat to the opposition. This makes him a player to watch and adds excitement and entertainment value for fans.”

Being known for his cheeky yet respectful nature is a testament to his character. His mates call him The King, inspired by his long mane of hair resembling the Lion King, which shows the camaraderie and playful spirit within the group he grew up with.”

Mitchell Hardie was also an excellent junior cricketer. In the same year he won best on ground in an open footy final for his school team he was the leading run scorer and wicket-taker in the Berg Shield (state Catholic school cricket competition).

“I’m glad someone from Geelong has given him an opportunity as his body of work at St Francis de Sales, Leeton Whitton Crows, Canberra Demons and Woodville West Torrens has had him knocking on the door for a good period now,” Doyle said.


The Leeton footy factory

Leeton’s incredible run of players who have made it to the big time include Kurt Aylett, Jacob Townsend, Jacob Hopper and Cooper Sharman. Sharman was selected in last year’s mid-season draft, with the Saints also plucking him from Woodville West-Torrens.

The Leeton Shire has a population of around 11,500 with only 2,100 aged 15-29. There have been no AFLW players drafted from Leeton…yet.

Locals will tell you St Francis Leeton graduates, Abby Favell who’s in Geelong’s VFLW leadership team and Mary Sandral (skipper of Western Bulldogs’ VFLW sides), are banging down the door for elite selection.