The rapid rise of Leeton’s Cooper Sharman
Originally published by fox footy.com.au
Eight months ago, the last thing on Cooper Sharman’s mind was getting drafted.
In fact, the teenager had just moved from his home town of Leeton in country New South Wales to live on campus at Deakin University in Victoria, where he would study a Business/Commerce degree.
The one-time GWS Academy member tried his luck at Balwyn Football Club, in the local Eastern Football League, under the guidance of former AFL coach Rodney ‘Rocket’ Eade.
“(I) played majority of first grade, I got dropped a couple of times into the seconds, (but) I enjoyed my time in the Eastern Football League, it was pretty tough,” Sharman explained to foxfooty.com.au.
“The boys at Balwyn got around me, bit of youth in the team as it was an older team. I was playing good footy at Balwyn then got called up to Oakleigh and was straight in the side there. I played seven or eight games and played in a premiership – it was the last thing I expected. It has been a whirlwind.
“There was a couple of games where there were recruiters there. There was a bit of talk about it. I was going out to warm up against Blackburn and a couple of boys said they saw recruiters. The nerves go up a bit when clubs come out to watch local footy. It didn’t faze me too much when I got out there.
“I think I went alright, kicked three goals and took a couple of marks in the wet.”
Sharman’s influence on the recruiters was clear, as the 192cm forward earned an invite to the national combine held in October.
As for the guidance from ‘Rocket’, Sharman declared he was “really approachable” and was “awesome” for his development.
“I was a bit nervous coming down when he was going to be coach but he’s been awesome,” he said.
“No individual (sprays), but a couple of good team sprays.”
Sharman could’ve been a Giant if not for a differing of opinion, with the club dumping him after pre-season contests.
“I did a full pre-season heading into a top-age year, so last year and I probably didn’t play well enough in the trial games to get selected,” he said.