NSW/ACT’s Draft delight
Talented quartet Callum Mills, Jacob Hopper, Matt Kennedy and Harrison Himmelberg have produced New South Wales’ best ever result at the AFL national draft in Adelaide after they were all picked in the first round and within the first 16 selections.
By Neil Cordy.
As expected Mills went to the Sydney Swans at pick three, while the GWS Giants took Hopper at pick seven and Matt Kennedy at 13.
Canberra’s Himmelberg produced an early shock going as high as 16.
Not since 1998 has the NSW region figured so prominently in the draft when Essendon drafted Mark McVeigh with pick nine, St Kilda took Lenny Hayes at 11, Collingwood snared Nick Davis as a father son selection at 19 and Brisbane drafted Craig Bolton at 33.
There was no surprise with the first two picks, Carlton took key defender Jacob Weitering (Dandenong Stingrays) with number one and Brisbane claimed tall forward Josh Schache (Murray Bushrangers) with the next pick.
Mills then became the first player to test the new bidding system when Melbourne selected him a three.
The Swans then paid the points price for the Sydney local.
“It’s special,” Mills told The Daily Telegraph.
“I can’t remember a time when three NSW kids were even invited to the draft. It’s something we should be really proud of and something where the academies and AFL NSW have played a big role in developing all of us.”
Gold Coast then selected Hopper at seven and GWS showed no hesitation in bidding for him.
“We take huge honour and pride in representing NSW,” Hopper said.
“We do feel like we are playing a role in developing the game in a state which isn’t known for producing too many players.
“This group of Rams players started winning games at under 15 level when we beat WA by 60 points here in Adelaide, so it was nice to be drafted at the same place. We developed some belief.”
Kennedy from Collingullie in the Riverina wasn’t even considered a draft prospect 12 months ago but an outstanding year of football at senior level in the country has changed all that.
“It’s a memory which will last forever,” Kennedy said.
“You pinch yourself because you want to do well and see your mates do well. Playing against men is better than playing against kids your age.
“I think it made me the player I am playing against grown men at the age of 16. People trying to bash you and if you can’t still up for yourself you won’t make it.”
Himmelberg is a Cam McCarthy lookalike and plays in a very similar fashion as well which may be very timely considering McCarthy has been heavily linked with a move back to WA at the end of 2016.